It sometimes takes challenging times to notice the things we take for granted. This past week has reminded us of many of those things, from electricity, to heat, to lights, to water, and the ability to drive anywhere and anytime we want.
This winter storm of 2021 knocked out so much of those things we take for granted. We’ve all been astounded by the work put in by local electric line crews. Their job seemed too large to overcome with hundreds of electrical poles downed by this storm and thousands without power.
But those folks from Central Texas Electric Coop and the City of Fredericksburg worked hard to get power restored. The legislature will be dealing with our state’s creaky electric generation system, but that’s not our local linemen’s fault.
Carl Luckenbach stated on social media he had been without power for some time, and he appreciated how his great grandfather must have had to deal with inclement weather without the benefit of cell phones and electric lines.
We also take for granted that our emergency workers will respond when called. This week, they did a Yoeman’s job at responding to calls. We had an emergency calls scanner with us this weekend and it was going off constantly. Dispatch seemed to tone out EMS and fire calls every few minutes. There were the usual calls, like someone choking, a non-emergency transfer or lift assist calls. But there was a deluge of welfare check calls and accident responses, as people sat in their rural homes without power, cell phone service, water or all of the above, or they ventured out onto slipper roads.
Law enforcement, even when there is not much crime, always plays a supporting role, whether diverting traffic around wrecks, or responding to calls ranging from serious domestic violence calls to those involving teens who found a large piece of plastic and tied it to a pickup truck to fishtail down streets, perhaps not always being as safe as we know our exceptional teens are. (One friend posted a joke that there are two Texas responses to bad winter weather: Panic shopping or tying something to the bumper of a pickup. Those of us from small towns know this to be truth.)
And let’s not forget our wrecker drivers. For the past week, they have been on high alert, working to get drivers out of ditches, towing wrecked vehicles of those of us Texans who can’t drive “worth a dang” in wintry weather. Some even employed chains on their tires. Those of us from south of the Mason-Dixon don’t even think about snow chains until weeks like this when we need them.
City Manager Kent Myers outlines the other heroic and extra-mile efforts of local crews, whether it was repairing electrical lines or helping set up a shelter for those without power. We salute you all.
Another thing we take for granted are the mature trees that make the Hill Country so attractive. When stepping outside last Thursday as freezing moisture began to weigh down trees, one could hear the cracks and crashes of sizable limbs all around our neighborhood. Our friends who live in the country reported the same things.
My friend Drew Crocker, who works for the National Forestry Service, said he hated to see damage to a couple of unusual Deodar cedars located downtown, one near Schaetter’s Funeral Home. Those trees have been around a while.
Dr. Leo Tynan, who sits on the board of the Hill Country Alliance and is a conservationminded fellow, posted from his North Gillespie County ranch that, “the cold version of hell is upon us... the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane without a breath of wind.”
He posted, “The devastation to the trees of Gillespie County may be on a scale we have never before seen. It is like the Arctic in the hills to the north of Fredericksburg where we live right now. Snapping trees can still be heard this morning followed by the shattering ice like glass. I don’t think any sizable tree has been spared serious damage and I’m certain many will die over the next year or two. It is very sad.
“It’s especially overwhelming when you have to answer to it. It’s like playing chess with God- he looks up over his glasses and with a grin says, ‘your move.’”
The great thing is that we will witness the healing powers of nature, even in extreme weather events like these.
Trees are like us. If our roots are strong, we can withstand the pruning and damage that life gives us now and then. Hopefully we learn from those episodes and bud out with new gifts, having soaked in experiences. And hopefully, like those ancient trees around town, we can be treasured and adored after many decades.
For those who worked all week to keep us safe and restore power, you’ve got good roots. Thank you sincerely. We are at our best when we do not to take you for granted.