A summer storm brings peace

PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown

We live in times of constant stress and outrage. The ubiquity of media means that anyone from a kindergartner to a retiree can feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Last Thursday, we had a summer storm blow through Balsam Township. Not the worst we’ve seen, but a real whipper. A healthy basswood tree came up by its roots, falling on our garage, while an old maple snapped at its trunk. Other than a small hole in our garage roof and a short power outage, we escaped without serious damage. Like most storms it seemed worse at the time than it really was.

But unlike previous storms, we have a new fire ring this summer. A classic feature of a Minnesota yard, we had yet to procure one until my dad and stepmom gave us one for Christmas. So this year, we would cut and split the wood for our own use, not just my wife’s parents’ next door burn pile.

It took a full afternoon of my father-in-law cutting trees while I split wood to put up for later use. The boys hauled the rotten, gnarly logs down to the fire pit. Then we spent a long evening, well into the early morning burning up the brush and logs.

It’s a simple thing, really, something people used to do as a matter of routine and that many still do. But the act of physically confronting a stressful circumstance unwound weeks of stress from my shoulders. (Even if my shoulders were pretty sore the next day). The fire consumed the cause of our problems right before our eyes.

It was a reminder of something I’ve learned, and forgotten, and relearned many times. When the world’s got you down, do something useful.

There’s plenty to do.


  1. “Do something useful.” Always good advice.

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