Gale-force winds and torrential rains swept through central Iowa last night. Awakened by crashing thunder, I watched as lightening flashes illuminated a scene reminiscent of Gulf Coast hurricanes. As I watched, two questions came to mind: Are we getting water in the basement? and What is happening to the prairie?
Since I could do nothing about either, I went back to bed. This morning on my walk, I saw that a portion of our neighbor's yard can now double for a swimming pool; ditches along the road ran bank full.
The prairie is showing the effects of repeated storms. From the earliest days this spring, plants along the edge of the prairie were more inclined to lean, even topple completely over. But as the prairie filled out and filled in, the plants throughout the prairie formed a supporting network for each other. The persistent winds and rain of this season have pushed against and across the prairie but they haven't knocked it down.
Last night's storm did its best. The tallest plants in the prairie now reach almost nine feet tall. Standing alone, those really tall, slender plants would have gone down in the storm. But in the company of the crowded prairie, they only leaned over a bit.
Plants in the prairie remind me of people in a community. Friends who step in to support each other during the tough times. No matter how independent and in control we think we are day to day, when we're buffeted by the strong winds and driving rains of crisis, it's our friends who hold us up.
The prairie is bent but not broken. And, we only got a little water in the basement.