This year the groundhog nailed it. When he predicted 6 more weeks of winter our temp was 82°. Ten days later it was 7°. In Texas we say if you don’t like the weather just wait, it’ll change. But this was ridiculous!
Only a week before the purple Lantana bloom from plant ‘Molly’ looked vibrant and hopeful, full of life - just like the granddaughter it’s named for. Early spring in Texas can be so pretty. It can also be deadly. A historic, once a century winter storm brought unprecedented cold, snow and ice. For the first time I experienced seven days of temps below freezing. Texas homes and businesses aren’t designed to withstand that – we don’t have 6” thick walls or basements; our internal pipes do well on outside walls in our heat. Add thousands of families who have moved here from other states - many to large homes with big power footprints - and you have a recipe for statewide power and water system failure.
In preparation for the storm we wrapped pipes, laid in provisions, covered plants, checked antifreeze, secured windows, charged devices, collected extra water. Highways and flyovers were sanded and chemically treated for emergency responders. But there is only so much you can do when a storm of this magnitude hits. And stays.
It began the night before Valentines. First rain. Then temps dropped to the teens. Then sleet. Then snow. Night after night we hit lows in the single digits with low teens during the day. Unheard of in central Texas. Fortunately we lost power for only 24 hours, and had water except for one afternoon. By gas stovetop we heated food and boiled water, ate by candlelight near the fireplace, and did without TV and internet. Folks charged cell phones by car power and met neighbors doing likewise. My sister stayed with us for the four days of her power outage; my mom hosted another sister during that same time. My neighbor’s brother and family were their guests. Kids and grands across the state made it to in-laws or friends’ homes for power and heat. Community in action.
I busted out my Uggs and layered my clothes. My husband wore long johns under his sweatshirt, and in his 4wd truck he delivered portable oxygen packs, gas for generators, wood for fireplaces, and helped neighbors turn off water when pipes burst. When the downstairs part of the church flooded he was there for days, removing water with shop vacs and drying out carpets with large fans. Faith in action.
The week after the storm I checked the Lantana. Its branches still pointed upward but were dark brown and withered. No blooms. Not on Molly, or Emily, or Liam. Lantana has a low temp tolerance of 55°, I doubt I’ll see these plants bloom again. The aloe vera was toast. The Yucca might make it, not sure about St. Peter’s Palm, it can tolerate down to 15°. Landscape nurseries in Texas will do well this spring of 2021.
Through partially melted snow I noticed the rocks in my beloved garden: still in place, washed clean, unchanged by the same elements that devastated the plants. Immediately I saw the connection. Psalm 62 says God is a mighty rock, an unshakable fortress, never changing, withstanding anything. The Great I AM will never not be. But like plants, humans are needy! We are dependent creatures. We like to think we are self-sufficient but the opposite is true. We need air, water, warmth and food to survive. We need each other. And we need God to keep the balance in our spirits. The Rock who created the earth and humans with minds to invent computers, internet, wireless technology - that Rock is the only One who can meet our needs.
I hope I never see another storm like that. But if I do I’m prepared. I’ve got the Rock.