For many years I have carefully selected, planted and watched grow, dozens of lovely shade loving plants. Two large pecan trees in my back yard provided the perfect canopy....

By Linda Workman Smith

For many years I have carefully selected, planted and watched grow, dozens of lovely shade loving plants. Two large pecan trees in my back yard provided the perfect canopy for an oak leaf hydrangea colony, several other hydrangea varieties, coral bells, ferns, elderberries, ornamental ginger etc. You get the picture? Often Mother Nature has other plans.

Last Sunday, May 19th, 2013 was a hectic day for me. My (grand) son-in-law had been deployed for 4 months and was expected to arrive back in OKC between 1 and 4pm that day. I planned to care for my four great-granddaughters at their home in Meeker while my daughter/granddaughter went to get our hero. As I rushed through my landscape weeding, mulching and picking up, the sky was darkening and wind was increasing. After coming inside to catch the weather, I hesitated to leave. My husband told me if I was going, I’d best get moving. I arrived at my destination in Meeker to the news that my son-in-law’s plane had been delayed in Kansas and he would be later than expected getting into OKC. As weather reports emerged my granddaughter made the executive decision to stay home with her children until our area was clear. My husband called from our home in Shawnee saying that he was going to our cellar. At news that the tornado was approaching our area my girls and I went to “The Harpers”, neighbors with a storm cellar. There were several other neighbors as well as a couple of very well behaved dogs inside the cellar when we arrived. There was a small black and white television with rabbit ears, which someone had to hold on to for good reception.  We all listen as storm chasers describe the path of the tornado. A big thanks to the Harpers for their generosity.

When we were able to emerge from underground, we had a voice mail from my husband that he was okay, house was okay but a couple of trees were down. Wanting to see for myself that my hubby was okay, we headed for Shawnee. Coming down highway 177 the road was blocked with a tractor trailer that had blown off the overpass of Interstate 40. We took back roads trying to reach my house on Old Highway 270 but there were so many vehicles jamming the way that I got out of the car, walked and jogged about a quarter mile to my house. After hugging my husband fiercely I discovered that as reported, he was fine. Not so my shade gardens. One of the pecan trees was resting atop our patio grill area, the other across our well house and on one corner of our house. After a time my daughter/granddaughter and girls arrived.

Upon ascertaining there was nothing to be done at my house—power was out--I returned home with my daughter/granddaughter so that she could go collect our hero. The children were under the impression that it would be the following day before their daddy would be there. My great-granddaughters and I passed the time their mama was gone to her “appointment”, eating ice cream cones and having a talent show. When mama and daddy were about 5 minutes from home they texted so that I could take the girls to the playroom. We were sitting on the floor reading a book when their mama came in and said, “I brought you something.” And out of the dark hallway stepped their daddy, our hero! What a joyous ending to such a chaotic day.  

In the coming weeks, as I go about the business of restoring order to my re-arranged 2 acre paradise, I will give thanks that we were spared the worst and offer up prayers for those not so fortunate.   

Happy gardening,