Storm Ali has left us with plenty of food for thought

Sandra Chapman
Sandra Chapman

When bits of geranium and pansies started flying past my window this week I knew it was time to brave Storm Ali and go to the rescue. After all a lot of money was spent on those plants so I had to risk life and limb to chase after them.

Son number one had already texted me to stay indoors as it was pretty wicked where he was in the south of Ireland.

Storm Ali wrecked havoc across Ulster

Storm Ali wrecked havoc across Ulster

I was determined that my efforts to grow the little sprigs I had got in the garden centre in the spring were not going to be wasted. Besides I couldn’t let them down after all the pleasure they had given me over the summer.

Though I like storms, at this time of the year nature’s last hurrah can also be fearsome not to mention destructive.

Years ago when I had just started secondary school, a storm took the life of one of our classmates who had got blown into a river near his home. I didn’t know him too well but I do remember the tragedy it was. A big storm in September is always there to remind me of that event. In this way I learned to respect nature’s wildest end-of-season fling.

I also remember the line of beech trees that grew along the roadside beside our family home.

A storm one autumn felled one and my uncle, who owned the land they grew on, decided to chop the lot in case someone got killed.

Today we would think that a real desecration of nature. Sixty years on and any time I drive past that treeless area I’m reminded of the beautiful beech trees that grew there, trees we had played under, the low branches of which we used to swing like Tarzan.

They had protected our home from wild, winter westerlies. Our supply of beech nuts was gone. The place never looked the same afterwards.

Years later a new build replaced our old home. Nice though it is I still think it would have looked better with that row of beech trees beside it.

There are just two trees at my new home and I watched them like a hawk when Storm Ali was in full flow.

A tree in a neighbour’s garden instead took the brunt of the storm and I’m left to mourn the loss of what was my guide for wind direction on any given day.

I didn’t even have to move off the settee to know which way the wind was blowing. It’s like I’ve lost a friend, one I’ve known less than a year.

As compensation it has opened up a better view of the hills in that direction. So what nature takes from us on one hand it gives back with another.

The storm has been as explosive as Theresa May’s attempts to make Brexit work. She works so hard trying to control her temper when being interviewed by BBC reporters but you can just see how frustration eats her up, tightens her mouth and you just know that the hand waving will follow.

Margaret Thatcher was never like that. If she was imparting some dogged facts she would dip the head to one side and dare anyone to contradict her.

Brexit is the political storm of the century and it just seems apt that the weather has been as explosive as the debate. Ali, in fact has produced the strongest gusts of any storm any of us remembers.

Storm Brexit has still some way to go. I voted yes for Brexit and fully expected there would be many a gale on the way to achieving it.

Yet I found it difficult to comprehend why the mighty British government let itself be side tracked by the Irish border issue.

Sinn Fein in full flow drove it obviously imagining they had got the Brits on the hook.

How they must wish the brave and steady Mairia Cahill would get off their backs (she won’t) and the scandal of the Disappeared would melt into the boglands of southern Ireland. It won’t.

These stormy days Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald faces a storm, one of her own making.