We drank our morning coffee accompanied by the sound of chain saws. It would be an almost constant sound for the next 6 days. Jesse and Shane had gotten the most dangerous of the "hangers" out of the trees and had temporarily propped up the front fencing for us on Wednesday evening; they would now get the rest of the hangers out and trim and paint all the damaged limbs in our 11 remaining pecans and one of the cypress trees. They would cut the holly tree up and remove it for us. They would cut away as much of the pecan that had fallen in back as they could safely take care of; its roots were under the barn wall (the concrete that those roots lay under stand up 4 feet straight in the air under the debris). In fact, those roots (and that upright concrete slab) are still there to this day waiting for the remainder of the barn to be removed.
Those 6 days would test my patience. The constant noise around me when I am used to the stillness of the country - where the music of birds and breezes ruffling the leaves and a tractor working a distant field are the norm - was wearing. It seemed like every ten minutes, the dogs would be barking as Jesse or Shane knocked on the door to point out a place where the damage was worse than thought and we'd need to take off another limb. Visits from Contractors to finish the well system or fix the hot tub or inspect a roof or the R.V.; a constantly ringing phone, and a yard that required an hour or two of clean up every night after the trees were worked on were all mentally exhausting.
This photo gives a glimpse of what we'd see at the end of every day the trees were being worked on.
Hunter and I would head out just before dinner and start hauling the debris either to the front for the county to
pick up or to the burn pile that was lit every day. We'd save as much of the pecan wood as possible for cooking.
This was mostly from the damaged Cypress tree that sits just outside our kitchen window - it was planted by
Ella Wilton in 1909 shortly after their immigration from England.
We were averaging about 4 hours of sound sleep before suddenly waking up with a start before sunrise; those lists hanging on the refrigerator door were the first thing we checked while having our coffee.
Hunter went to school dealing with not only end of the year exams but also his SATs and ACTs and final concerts and banquets. He spent each evening home out there helping us to clear out and salvage.
When home, David continued to work in three different directions; he helped Shane and Jesse where needed; he worked on putting up the screening and the walls of the Gazebo; and he continued to enter the totaled metal and wood sheds salvaging what he could of our contents. Then he'd go to work a 12 hour shift at his real job.
I played the Wedding Music Playlist I was creating every chance I got to remind us of why we were doing all of this so quickly while all around us the damage remained untouched. Our farmer still had trees down across his driveway; driving in to town we passed places where other than small cleanups nothing had been touched. (Our farmer's trees were only removed from his driveway two weeks ago - six weeks after the tornado.)
When our spirits got heavy and we'd didn't think we make it; or we'd ask "why in the world did this happen to us", we'd remind each other of how blessed we were to have gotten folks to work on our place so quickly. Our home insurance adjuster called contractors and told them what had to be done before the wedding and what needed to wait until after the wedding. Our vehicle insurance adjusters (3 of them) were patient and understanding of our continually putting them off until after the wedding.
But Jesse and Shane were the real blessing. While the fallen and broken trees around us turned yellow and died because no one could get a tree company to get to their jobs, our trees were being repaired and/or removed on a daily basis. There was no denying that God had sent them our way.
And at night, I organized all the photos and video we'd taken for the insurance adjusters into a "movie" we could look back with our future grandchildren years from now and remember this time. Making that movie was not only a way to tell "Our Wedding Story" but it was therapeutic for me... in the photos and videos, I could see not only the progress we made each day, but also the love and support of those friends and family who continued to show up to help us out.
6 more days until the Wedding!