Nature releases built-up energy in epic storm

On June 6, 2020, Ted, Oggie, and I headed for Bullfrog, hoping to find a hiking place south of the predicted rainstorm, but rain and hail started peppering down when we turned onto Highway 95 and grew heavier as we traveled west.

A white-out of ice hit us after we drove through the Comb Ridge cut. We blindly crawled for a few minutes before the hail lightened, and then, much to our surprise, we spotted a prop airplane parked alongside the highway.

The plane looked undamaged although its wingtips were missing, and since we didn’t see a pilot or passengers, we assumed they’d landed because of severe weather, perhaps even the day before when winds gusted up to 65 miles an hour and created huge orange dust clouds.

The current storm’s effects were all around us. Ice covered the highway, a couple of cowboys rounded up cows and calves wandering befuddled along the road, and campers emerged from their trailers to assess damage.

Undeterred, we drove on. Before long, blue skies opened overhead although the battering wind continued.

A few hours later, we parked beside a road leading to a Ticaboo Canyon overlook, hiked across spongy orange sand, found Wild Horse Springs, ate lunch, and decided to head home.

When we arrived in Blanding, the storm had obviously swept through town, but its severity became even more apparent as we chugged up our driveway. Our sunflowers, many bent at eighty-degree angles, had holes pocked in their leaves.

The hail had shredded our corn which had grown knee-high to an elephant; tattered the salad veggies and beans; stripped the little tomato, pepper, and squash plants; and reduced to sticks the two huge tomato plants I’d nurtured over the winter.

Some of the watermelons had simply disappeared, beaten out of the ground, and the hollyhocks and other flowers had been beheaded.

We were so heartsick about the garden and flowers we didn’t notice the south side of our house and shed had been riddled until after we’d taken our showers.

The storm brought back vivid memories. When I lived in Kansas, violent storms of all kinds struck frequently.

One cloudy day, as a third grader, I walked to a Girl Scout activity. I had a great time braiding a keychain and playing with the other girls, but before the leader could bring out refreshments, my mom’s car pulled into the driveway.

I hadn’t noticed the billowing thunderheads, but Mom came running to the house with an umbrella.

We barely made it to the car before the clouds unleashed hailstones the size of grapefruit. Mom drove home through the pounding hail, and we dashed into the house.

When the storm abated, Tom and I gathered some of the hailstones and licked the heaven-made ice. Because I was young, the only damage I remember were leaves and branches torn from the trees and our car dented from hood to trunk.

Since then, I’ve wondered if the Kansas hailstones were really that large or if I was simply a small girl with a big imagination.

Hailstones are formed when a strong updraft blows water droplets high into the clouds where they freeze. Depending on the power of the wind, the baby hailstones tumble down and are tossed back up over and over, becoming more and more layered with ice until they grow so heavy, they plummet to the ground.

According to, hailstones the size of grapefruit need updrafts blowing at 98 miles per hour, a phenomenon which occurs in the Midwest.

In fact, a volleyball-sized hailstone, the largest ever recorded, fell in Vivian, SD in 2010, so, despite the recent unleashing of nature’s power in our area, we have much to be thankful for.

On the day after the storm, Oggie and I walked in Westwater where it looked like miniature flash floods had hit all over the canyon.

The storm had stripped needles, tiny green cones, and berries off the pinyon and juniper trees. One large pinyon had been snapped in two.

After Oggie and I crossed the swollen stream to the west side, I noticed a lot of prickly pear cacti blooming, apparently untouched by the weather.

As delicate and beautiful as roses, the yellow blossoms opened to the light, their centers creamy or orange with bright green pistils and butter-colored stamen.

In the aftermath of nature’s destruction, the fragile flowers seemed symbolic of the resilient life force that flows in everything.

Within a week, that vital force also became evident in our yard: The delphinium sent up tender new shoots; the sunflowers, despite looking like crooked old men, began to bloom; the stick tomatoes sprouted tiny leaves; and even the salad veggies perked up.

New life also came unbidden when a beautiful, young family from Monticello brought plants from their greenhouse to replace ours that didn’t survive.

I often think about the life force as I practice Sheng Zhen. In fact, during one movement, we gather Qi, divine energy, and release stagnant energy, such as anger, fear, or grief.

The more we let go, the more the healing energy fills us.

Globally, we’ve also had a lot of fear, grief, and anger tumbling around, much like hailstones gathering more and more density.

Perhaps nature, too, needs to release built-up energy, so the divine intelligence can flow more fully and freely into everything, including prickly pear flowers opening to the light.

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