Sometimes Life Happens

We found this little guy early Monday morning in one of the new erosion ruts on the driveway. I can’t help but wonder if he didn’t have a really wild ride the night before. Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved

Anthony and I both had big plans for this week. A blog article to write and record. At least one “long” video and hopefully a shorter nature trivia video or two to create. A podcast episode to edit. Work on multiple projects that we’re planning to launch before the end of the year. Several meetings. Some projects around the house. And much more. But things didn’t quite go as planned.

Shortly before bedtime on Sunday night a thunderstorm blew in. Neither of us paid it much attention. As we crawled into bed, the wind picked up and we could hear what sounded like possibly hail starting to hit the house.

A quick check of the weather indicated that we were under a severe thunderstorm watch and warning for the next hour or so, but nothing more severe than that. We were tired and had big plans for the next day, so went to bed and didn’t worry about it.

Sometime, relatively early in the night, I became aware that the ceiling fan wasn’t running anymore. I think it was still raining then, but I’m not sure. I could hear the creek roaring, but that wasn’t surprising. Our creek always rises quickly when we get a heavy rainfall. It’ll roar for a bit, but then go down just as quickly.

Our redbud next to the driveway was squashed by the top of a nearby black locust which broke off in the storm. Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved

I knew I’d be able to get out in the morning and do all the things I had planned. So, there wasn’t anything to worry about and I continued to sleep as the creek roared throughout my dreams. Nothing about the sounds outside were weird enough for me to fully wake up.

My first indication that the storm might not have been just a normal summer thunderstorm came as I woke up on Monday morning. The ceiling fan still wasn’t on. The power had been out all night. Our power never stays out for long. Up until this past March when a windstorm knocked out power to most of the region, we’d never lost power for more than a few hours.

However, I still wasn’t too concerned because I could hear chainsaws working up the road from us. I figured that it wouldn’t be too much longer. Maybe the crews just needed daylight to safely clear and fix the lines.

I’m always amazed by the stormy conditions in which the electric crews work and am thankful for what they do to restore power when it goes out. I certainly couldn’t get upset if they felt like waiting until daylight and calm weather was the safest bet for clearing and fixing a line.

I think half of our across-the-street neighbor’s driveway washed across the road and got caught up in our fence. Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved

As I got out of bed and looked out the window, I received my second clue that the storm wasn’t as normal as we’d thought. In the side yard, along the edge of the woods, there was a tall stump with a jagged top where a black locust tree had been the night before. The top of the tree was sitting on top of a nearby redbud.

The wind Sunday night must have been stronger than we thought. In addition to the locust tree, several other trees throughout our woods were blown down or their tops were blown off. We’re planning to open our woods up so we can get more light to the ground and more things growing, but this wasn’t how we planned to do it. We wanted to pick the trees we cut down and bring them down in a controlled manner that didn’t leave a bunch of widow makers hanging in nearby trees.

However, the real story from Sunday night’s storm was the water. A low field that always floods to some degree looked like you took a giant roller and completely flattened all the goldenrod, ironweed, and other vegetation that was growing there. In one place, the rushing water practically flattened part of our perimeter fence. In another area it completely washed away part of an interior fence. The water running across our property must have been absolutely incredible!

When we went to bed on Sunday night, this was a field full of goldenrod, ironweed, and other vegetation that was as tall as us. When we woke up on Monday morning, it was completely flattened. That was how much and how powerful the water flowing through here was on Sunday night. Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved

Even though by morning the water had already gone back down, its aftermath left us completely trapped on our property. Part of the creek bank had caved in overnight and sent multiple trees crashing into the creek in such a way that they fell across our driveway and hung up in a maple tree on the other side.

If that wasn’t enough, over a foot and a half of sediment had been deposited in a hump were the driveway crosses the creek in a low water ford. The only way in or out of our property was by foot. Suddenly our plans for the week had to completely change.

It took us two days to safely cut away the trees and grade down the hump of sediment that blocked the driveway. Logs and brush piles still line the driveway and the main part of the trees are still standing in the creek, but we can once again drive in and out of our property.

The brush piles, logs, tree trunks in the creek, downed trees in the woods, and everything else can wait a bit. We’ll get to it bit by bit when the weather is cooler, we have more time to plan the best way to tackle the problems, and our backs and arms have had some time to recover. Thankfully, none of the buildings were damaged, and except for some sore arms and backs, we’re both ok.

Oh, and the power came back on Monday evening. Considering Anthony’s favorite tool for cutting trees is an electric chainsaw, that was important for multiple different reasons. We’ve also decided that a generator would be a good investment given the severity of storms we’re starting to get.

This wasn’t the article I was planning to write this week. However, I’m sharing this story because I know how easy it is to feel overwhelmed and get discouraged when things don’t go as planned or you can’t complete a project as quickly as you had hoped.

Several trees fell into the creek, across the driveway, and hung up in a maple tree on the other side of the driveway when part of the creek bank caved in during Sunday night’s storm. Photo credit: Shannon Trimboli, all rights reserved

Feeling that way is something I struggle with frequently, and I know I’m not the only one. The truth is, sometimes life happens. And “life happens” in all kinds of different ways at different points in our lives.

I also know that many people envision Anthony and I as having the “perfect place,” and it’s not. We’re as human as the next person. “Life happens” to us too. We’re all just trying to do the best we can. That’s all any of us can do. And if that means having logs and brush piles piled up along the driveway because we were too hot, sore, and exhausted to do anything more, then so be it.

My hope is that our story of how “life happened” to us this week can give you a little bit of encouragement, or at least, help you feel not quite so alone the next time life throws a wrench in your plans.

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Backyard Ecology: Exploring Nature in Your Backyard
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at

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