It was the first big storm of the year, and it caught Abe and Ginger unawares while they were lost hiking in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area. The couple had missed the return trail, and they were unable to go further as night fell. They made a cold camp and tried to overcome their weariness. Abe lay near Ginger on a bed of pine needles beside a fallen oak that they had taken for shelter. They tried to sleep.

In the darkness of night, there are the sounds of the Adirondacks wilderness.

Leaves, “whisper…shuffle…rustle”
Great Horned Owl, “hoo…hoo…h’ h’ hooooooo”
Barred Owl, “hoo cooks…hoocooksferUall”
Eastern Screech-Owl, “screee…screee…screeeech…screee”
Short Eared Owl, “shrirl…shirl…shirilll”
NightHawk, “wheet…wheeeet…wheet…wheet…wheeet”
Coyote, “harahoooowl…roff…har har hooooaaowl…roff…rofrof hoowyooowl…roff”
Red Fox, “yip yiyrip…yip yip yiyrip…yip yip yip”
BobCat, “roarwl…roarwl…roarwl…roarwl…ruurrrl”
Branches, “sway…creeeak…snap”
These are nocturnal songs.

Also at night in the Adirondack wilderness, one may hear a swoosh, swooosh, swoooosh, swoooosh, passing around and over you, almost as if it were going right through you. That would be the flapping wings of the great eagle, Wadzoosen, who creates the four winds at night. The winds tell the weather. Find shelter from the north wind.

In the shelter of the fallen oak and cradled in Abe’s arms, Ginger slept fitfully in stuttered dreams. She sensed a happening. She nervously, alternately shuddered and tensed. The starless sky was a gloomy, ashen blackness, and the whole world began to sway. The polyphony of the night songs abruptly ended.

A torrent of rain then hammered the forest, driven parallel by the swoosh of a most powerful north wind. Trees all around were uprooted and thrown down by the force of a concentrated hurricane. The tall pines toppled heavily to the ground for yards and yards in every direction as if timbered by a giant scythe.

Abe woke sopping, and in a panic, and he covered Ginger with his body, hugging her to his chest, feeling her tremble. “We’re alright,” he tried to calm her. “Stay tight to this tree trunk.” Ginger shivered wet, cold, and afraid.

A super Derecho had entered the Adirondacks traveling south easterly from Ontario, and a microburst of hundred mile an hour winds thundered through the Five Ponds Wilderness Area with a swoosh, and with the force and roar of a freight train, leaving a swath of destruction.

White pine two hundred feet tall were flattened like mowed hay. Spruce and balsam were yanked out by their roots, which pulled up the soil and exposed the crust of the earth. Mighty oaks were broken limb from limb.

When the worst of the storm had passed into a continuous, light rain, Abe rolled away from the fallen oak, leaving Ginger in a curl. He stood and stared and shook his head in shocked disbelief. Ginger pulled herself away from the oak and went to stand by Abe. She was unable to fully grasp the extent of the devastation. The sun had not yet shown itself, and they were wet and cold.

When the light of the sun did come upon them, they welcomed its warmth and hugged each other strongly. Then they heard the whirl of the helicopter, and they yelled and made panic jesters waiving whatever their hands could hold of their belongings, and they were rescued.

To this day, they most remember the swoosh of the wings of the great eagle, Wadzoosen.


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