Icing on the Cake

Growing up in Pennsylvania, I saw rain or snow, or very rarely sleet, but not–that I can recall–ice storms.  A little bit of ice will bring a city to a halt as half a foot of snow will not. There is no four-wheel-driving around an ice storm, no chaining up to go the store.

You stay home, count your candles, make sure the porch is full of dry firewood, and hope your e-reader is charged. When I first got to Maryland, the whole ice storm thing was fascinating, and the best part was the landscape the next morning. The sun rose on crystalline trees, sparkling bushes, and diamond-bright everything. Fairy tales and magic right outside the door.

But now I own a little patch of ground, and on that patch are big trees, and among those trees are conifers. Ice storms are brutal to pine trees, hacking off big limbs and piling them all over the roads, roofs, and yards. My pine trees took a beating this week, and because it was a windy ice storm, those big limbs ended across the road in my neighbor’s yard. Insert bad words and lot of them here.

I figured I’d get myself a cup of tea, wait for the horrendous drippy melting to stop, and then set about lugging the rubbishing dead fall up behind the barn. Not my fave thing to do with what little energy I have. Into the house I went, to make my second cup, and to feel overwhelmed, again.

I was doing my hand weights while waiting for the microwave to heat my tea water when, what to my wondering ears should appear, but the sound of a buzz saw. A county road crew truck went by, then another, then I heard a chipper. I took my cup of tea to the window and peered across the road.

The downed limbs were gone, only a few stray boughs lying on the wet grass to prove I hadn’t been imagining things. The improvement in my mood was ridiculous. I am not alone! I don’t have to solve every problem myself! My two spoons of energy were not frittered away dragging sticky old pine limbs out of my neighbor’s yard. Hallelujah!

I was so impressed by the impact that ten minutes of road crew help had on my whole outlook that I decided I would be somebody else’s road crew. I happened to spot one of those, “We hate to ask but three curve balls in a row and we just need a little help,” fundraisers on social, one shared by another author (so credibility, of course). I pitched in, and mentally thanked the road crew all over again. I might even have to write a letter to the editor about how grateful I still am to have heard those buzz saws.

The world is a scary place right now–again, some more, still. Are there simple acts of kindness you routinely perform to help keep your emotional balance? Have kindnesses been shown to you in recent days? My contribution to improving your week is to make the novella The Duke and the April Flowers, (formerly available in the anthology Dukes by the Dozen), a  free download on the web store. Enjoy!


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21 comments on “Icing on the Cake

  1. The kindness of my husband making me a cup a tea at 5am because I am too stressed out to sleep and bringing it to me with some toast and an “England Times” romance to read.

    • I was married only briefly, and a long time ago, but my husband is the only person in my whole life who has ever brought me a cup of tea fixed just the way I like it. How did he dooooo that? I’m convinced it’s a superpower, and I’m glad your husband has it too!

  2. Last weekend was an emotional weekend for our family. My Mom passed and her funeral was held on Tuesday. My neighbor and I went for a walk on Wednesday – this was a blessing as I needed to clear my head. I received flowers from another neighbor on Thursday. The bouquet is delicate..peach and white flowers which remind me of Spring.

    Kindness was shown to my brother and sister during the calling hour for my Mom. My Moms friends mentioned her kindness towards them and her love of her grandkids.these words meant a lot to my daughter niece and nephews.

    We had snow mixed with rain and ice on Friday. We were lucky,,.as none of us needed to go anywhere. Another blessing.

    • Sue, I am so sorry for your loss. No matter how elderly our parents are, no matter how ready they are to see what’s up around the bend (my dad’s phrase), it’s still a huge loss. Hugs, and hugs, and hugs, and I hope your friends and neighbors keep up the good work in the coming months and years.

  3. Last week, in probably what was the storm that ended up icing your neighborhood, I had to drive two hours into central Ohio for a meeting. The weather was heavy rain and fog for most of the day, predicted to start freezing in the evening. Twenty minutes into my return trip, my wipers decided to do battle on my windshield. They became entangled right in front of me and left me stranded on the side of the highway in rush hour. I called for roadside assistance from the company to whom I’ve spent several hundred dollars in premiums over the years knowing they’d come to my rescue if I ever needed it.

    Fast forward four hours later to when my husband arrives to save me in what is now freezing rain and total darkness. He drove over 100 miles to get to me. My roadside assistance canceled my call twice. The first time because the tow truck couldn’t find me even though I gave them my GPS location. The second time because the tow company wanted to charge more than my roadside assistance company would pay even though I told them I’d pay it myself if they could just get a truck to me.

    I am eternally thankful for my husband who came to my rescue and managed to temporarily fix my wipers enough that he could drive my car home while I followed in his. I am also grateful to my best friend who stayed in constant contact with me the whole time including when I had to climb across the front seat of my car to get out and heed nature’s call about an hour into the whole ordeal. I am also grateful to the State Highway Patrolman who stopped and tried to help but was afraid he’d do more damage to my wipers. He did assure me I was far enough off the highway to be safe and that he had reported my situation to the local post.

    While the service I counted on to save me completely failed me, others were there to help me retain my sanity and keep me calm while I was on the verge of tears. Thank you to my little band of angels!

    • That is an amazing tale of devotion from hubby and friend, and of utter failure on the part of the commercial support network to do what you paid them to do. I hope you write a letter to the state insurance commissioner about it, because we all know how badly awry any roadside situation can do. Glad you made it home safely.

  4. Sometimes the most kind thing to do is just be there for someone. During our family’s difficulties late last fall, the folks who seemed the most kind were the ones who were just there for us. I will never forget their kindnesses to us.

    • You learn who has been through the wringer, and who is still mincing along with a fragile sense of invulnerability, but the former show up, and the latter disappear on you. I’m glad your friends showed up for you, Teenie Marie, and hope those dark times are behind you for good.

  5. Valentine’s Day we received an anonymous valentine, hand made, probably by a 3 – 5 year old. Thinking it was perhaps my neighbour’s girls, I collected some “valentine” supplies that had been sitting for 20 years in the cupboard and took them over. I was wrong… girls had been at Grandma’s. However, there was at least one girl thrilled with doily hearts and paper lace.

  6. Thank you, Grace for the ebook! I just finished Miss Dignified and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I look forward to diving into The Duke and the April Flowers.

    I’m so glad the road crew took care of your downed trees so you didn’t have to. Contemplating a daunting task can be so overwhelming!

    I am definitely feeling very down, these days. The advent of spring usually makes me feel so much peppier, but I feel like I have no juice left to be excited with. We have some friends who are always so kind to us when we get together, making sure that we have our beverage of choice (unsweet tea or black coffee) and folding chairs on the shady end of the porch. Those little things touch my heart!

  7. I am in the midst of taxes since I finally received all the 1099s for my late mother, so the free book from you is a wonderful kindness I can use right now. Thank you so much and I wish for us all to have better days soon!

  8. Something I recently started doing is cooking for people who are having a hard time, whether financially or emotionally. Sometimes a hot cooked meal made with love can really be a bright spot in a person’s week. I hope I can make a difference for people who need a helping hand. I’m Italian, and we equate food with love. I am happy to spread that love to as many families as I can! I think sometimes just knowing that there is someone out there who cares enough to be sure they have a hot meal raises the spirits and strengthens a person to face the next step in their journey.

  9. I am heartened by the kind and caring people I’ve been reading about here.

    For a kindness I perform: When I’m in line at a fast-food joint, I will occasionally pay for the car behind me. I never know what their reaction is, but it feels like I’m giving a blessing to someone who might need it.
    I hold doors for people (in an appropriately socially distanced and safe way). ;p

    For kindnesses in my direction, there are SO many! Many are words that help me know I’m seen and understood. I have had friends carry heavy bags for me… or, just people saying, “it’s ok… we’ll make this work….” Sometimes, just knowing there is someone out there _trying_ to help is as important as whatever the outcome of the situation turns out to be.

    Thank you for sharing your stories!!! I love them and you are beyond generous!

  10. It is so amazing to have something dreaded taken off your to do pile! If I know there is a small task that one of my co-workers is dreading that I can do (e.g. make a phone call), I try to do it. It is funny how disproportionately happy it makes people, and I must say I am not the only one who does this and also enjoy being the benefactor ridiculously.

  11. – First, let me say that I am so sorry about your lack of energy. I hope you are seeing a good doctor and they figure it all out.
    – Second, I want to thank you for the covers on the Lady Violet books. All of them are so good. Covers don’t always have to have people. I downloaded all of the Violet books and just now the ‘A Tryst by the Sea’. I have many happy reading hours ahead of me.

  12. Grace, you are goodness itself. I so look forward to your words of wisdom and positiveness. As a science geek, I understand our universe is one of balance and the ice storm that felled those lovely trees culls the weak so the strong can survive. Doesn’t make the devastation less profound. I’m happy you are safe.