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Being a storm chaser
A Woman's View
Judi Tabler color mug

This summer has been a test! We have experienced heavy rains and wind; dumping water and tearing shingles off of roofs, causing damage to crops and to nature. Even the trees have been assaulted, losing large branches, and dropping tons of fruit.

Large trees grow on our property. No doubt there are large trees around your homes as well. In the past, these storms have snapped sizable boughs which have remained stuck high in the trees, too high to reach, and certainly not worth the expense of taking out. They are heavy, dead branches propped and probably partially attached in those trees.

During the last two storms, we lost branches. However, these branches were big mommas that had been alive and verdant. Did the storm take out the heavy, brittle, bent, and scraggly, branches at the top of the trees? You know, the ones that never shake loose? 

Are you kidding? No, they are still there... dead and stuck. 

The fruit trees suffered the same fate. The ugly, unsavory apple tree lost nothing; the good tree gave up most of the fruit. The pear trees; same. How disappointing this destruction of fruit must have been to the pioneers who relied on these provisions. Suddenly there would be no seasonal fruit for a pioneer family larder. 

Last Friday evening, our daughter and I were returning from out of town, when we received a call from Fred, warning us of a gigantic storm in our home area. Accompanied by large winds, the storm also was dumping rain in its path.

We decided to stay to the south of the cell as long as possible, following highway 50 from Stafford and traveling west. We opted not to turn at St. John where we would immediately catch the storm, but rather travel on to Belpre. About 4 miles from Belpre, the cloud hit us. Fortunately, I could drive by memory, watching the white line on the edge of our lane.

What did we ever do without painted edges on the highway?

I digress. We turned north to head on 19 to Larned. By then, the rain was plummeting the car, and we could see only two or three feet in front of the car. Turning to the north, it got worse. The windshield wipers were going ballistic. They couldn’t keep up. Flip flip, flip flip. My head wobbled with them.

Oh well, the car was getting a good scrubbing.

We proceeded north, watching the little vague stripe on the edge of the road. There were no other idiots on the road. Just us.

However soon, I noticed in the rearview mirror, a car tailing me. “Oh poor car,” I thought, “I remember trusting a car to follow in a storm. I remember how I relied on following the vehicle’s tail lights to see where to go. 

Did that poor soul behind us know that it was ME, and that I didn’t know where I was going, either? However, he stayed on my tail, keeping a respectful distance behind, and we proceeded down the highway. There was no sense in pulling over; there were lakes of water on the edges, and I do not think there was much of a shoulder.

What choice did I have? Forge on! Onward and Upward! Tally Ho! 

Soon, the wind came. It blew hard, and I was grateful for our being in a large, heavy car. It rocked a bit, and I thought, “I sure wish I could see clearly where I’m going. But, since I can’t, I’ll keep going anyway. (As I prayed.) I was driving almost blind.

We made it. The cellphone was buzzing flood alerts, and water was flowing down the street, but we could at least see where we were going.

When I arrived home, green branches were strewn in the driveway, fruit had been shaken from the trees, and water was flowing in the ditches. But, guess what? The dead, ugly, gnarled branches in the tall trees were still anchored high in the trees where they had always been. 

Is there no justice in nature? Sometimes I wonder. 

Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at or juditabler@awomansview.