Tag Archives: The Storm Atlas

The Anniversary of Atlas

One year ago today I remember exactly what was happening…..a storm was raging. A winter storm…..the kind that has the weather guys all in a fury……the kind that affects everyone in the area…..the kind that has livestock owners worried beyond belief……the kind that leaves devastation in its wake.

One year ago today was just the beginning of the horror that would ensue over the next few days leaving thousands of head of livestock dead……leaving our region crippled and in a state of shock. One year ago today we lost a sort of innocence that shrouded those of us not old enough to remember the last horrific blizzards in the 70’s.

I remember hearing the term “Storm Atlas” on the Weather Channel. Not long before that I had started hearing blizzards and other winter storms with names. At first I thought it was strange. I could understand naming a hurricane, but a blizzard? I now look back at the irony of the name chosen for the storm of the century.

“In Greek Legend Atlas was a Titan who took part in the revolt against the gods. As a punishment he was condemned to hold the heavens aloft forever. Atlas was usually represented as a human figure bearing the heavens or the celestial globe upon his shoulders.”

How symbolic that is…….Storm Atlas literally held the state of our world in its grasp.

As I sit here typing, I can hear the wind howling outside. My mind has gone back to a year ago as I listened to something similar. The difference is that we are dealing with rain this time and not snow. I’m thankful for that……more than you know.

So much has happened over the past year. I can honestly tell you though that I am gun shy when it comes to the weather now. I don’t think I am alone in that capacity either. I half winced when October rolled around. The wound left by what happened is still very fresh in everyone’s mind. It has been talked about, written about, covered on the news, and visualized by everyone who went through it…..countless times. I got in on writing a story about a surviving family in northern South Dakota a month or so ago for a publication. I literally had tears rolling down my face and the gal told me their story. The feelings and memories are still so raw. I truly believe that only time can heal this kind of wound.

Not all has been lost as there has been hope. Hope in the form of friends and neighbors bonding together to help each other, the farm bill finally going through, livestock donations, a plentiful year of rainfall, and the livestock markets are strong.

Going through something like Storm Atlas has given everyone a completely new perspective on things. It was a sharp reminder that we, as humans, don’t control things as much as we’d like to think. Mother Nature proved that she is still holding the reins. We can prepare for things as much as we can, but in the end prayer and hope is all we really have…..and each other. Without that……..everything would truly be lost.

My faith in humanity was restored in the aftermath of Storm Atlas. The outpouring of help from people in the communities was amazing. And while it couldn’t bring back the livestock lost it brought back a sense of caring and compassion that is sometimes lost in our busy lives in the 21st century.

I am proud to be a women in agriculture. There are so many awesome things that happen around us everyday. It’s easy to get lost and to lose your perspective when you live out in the sticks, but I, for one, am glad that I have the solitude to reflect on the things that are truly important in this life. There will always be storms……there will always be horrible things that happen……there will always be life as we don’t want it…….but there will also always be folks we can count on, family, and faith. I am most thankful for those things.

Here is to an uneventful fall……one full of golden leaves dancing in the breeze, fat calves going to the sale barn, lots of bred back cows, and a chance to truly be thankful for all that we have.

With that, I will leave you with my poem “The Storm Atlas”. I wrote it on the 8th of October one year ago. I still cry when I read it……Blessings to you all.

The Storm Atlas

By Cheyenne Glade Wilson® – written on 10/8/13

The storm came in hard and fast,

Like nothing anyone remembers from the past.

First came the rain, so cold and wet,

At this point, nobody would fret

Then came lots of snow,

And the wind began to blow.

The rancher began to pace,

A look of worry crept to his face.

“How are my animals out in this mess?”

It was his only concern that he cared to confess.

Those animals help to pay the bills,

They are fending for themselves out in those hills.

But his concern was far more than for money or such,

He cared for those critters so very, very much.

He shed blood, sweat and tears,

For them over the years.

They were all partners and relied on that trust,

They needed each other, which is why he cussed.

“Damn you, Mother Nature, and the fits that you throw,

The hand that you’ve dealt us is a might low blow!”

As the storm passed, the rancher did look,

At what he saw, oh, how he shook.

The dead and the dying were all that was seen,

The few survivors were gaunt and lean.

The losses were huge, far above his worst fears,

Soon began more discovery and then came the tears.

Sorrow came next and soon disbelief,

Followed by regret and undeniable grief.

How will they recover many do ask,

It’s what ranchers do, they tend to their task.

They work hard day and night,

And no matter what, they don’t give up the fight.

But the good times outweigh the bad,

So we keep that in mind for better times had.

Things like this are very hard to take,

So many lives lost are hard to forsake.

Just know that this too shall soon be in the past,

Ranchers are a tough bunch, which is why they last.

Prayers are free; there is no cost,

So let’s bow our heads and remember all that’s been lost.

Let’s pray for better days and for the heaviness of heart,

Let’s pray for strength and for another start.

The Storm Atlas

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The Storm Atlas

A couple of weeks ago I got a message from a friend asking me to call her, which I did. Come to find out she is on the board of the Black Hills Stock Show and she asked me if I would read my poem “The Storm Atlas” at the opening of the BHSS Ranch Rodeo Finals. Apparently, several people had requested asking me. I was surprised and completely honored!

I began writing poems when I was quite young. I’ve always had the ability to do it…..just get a thought in my head, scribble down a few words and within minutes have a complete poem written out. I’m not patting myself on the back…..or saying that I’m well-known for my poetry. I’m not……..well, not yet anyway…..have to think positive, right?!

I became a published poet at 12 years old. I’ve always written with a lot of emotion attached to my words. The poem I had published at this young age was about a horse my grandpa had given me. Our neighbor ran into him and several other horses of ours on Christmas Eve…..it was awful…..they all died or had to be put down. It was my first knowledge of drinking and driving and it has stuck with me all of these years. Shortly after this occurred, my grandpa passed away suddenly. In just a short few weeks, death had touched me….deeply. I wasn’t the type to cry a lot, but words would pour out of me like tears for some. I wrote this poem almost a year after it happened. After that, I wrote a lot of “dark” poems when I went through adolescence. It was my escape and I’m glad I had it. I stopped writing poems after I graduated from high school. I think that the ability and need to write has just been laying dormant in me for all of these years. It took a major emotional episode to make it come out again.  Nowadays I have more tears….maybe because I’m a mother now. I swear that motherhood brought an entire bag of emotions that I never dealt with a lot before Stone was born…..not that I’m complaining. 🙂

Fast forward to October 2013. A normal October for most of us……with the threat of a winter storm. We’ve had those before….and never thought much about them. We still had our calves on the cows….as did most people this time of year. We normally ship around the middle of October (send our calves off to market). Our spring had been tough on us as we were still reeling from losing 50 head of baby calves to an awful storm in April earlier that spring. So, here comes the storm of the century for us……we paced…..we prayed…..we were without power for 5 days….we had power poles knocked down in the pasture in front of our house and as far as we could see….poles everywhere! I nagged at Shane about putting our horses over in the calving barn….he was resistant, but I wouldn’t let up. Call it woman’s intuition or whatever, but I will forever be thankful that I listened to my inner self and demanded that those horses be put in. I helped him……it was just quite a chore because the snow and wind were horrific….and those horses weren’t thrilled about being taken into it in the mile trek over to the shed. It’s hard to think back about how awful the weather was……and how horrific the findings would be in just a few short days.

We had a generator to get us through the 5 days without power and when it came back on the images flooding Facebook and the news were absolutely horrific. That’s when the emotions hit me……I was sobbing…..I remember because the original sheet that I wrote the poem on had wet tear stains on it. That’s how emotional I was……and how emotional this poem is to me. We ended up not losing any cattle….this time around, but it struck a nerve in me that all ranchers can identify with. My tears weren’t for me or my family……they were for everyone/everything that the storm touched….people who suffered loss, the animals who lost their lives, the suffering that was endured, the harshness of Mother Nature….all of it. My tears were from the heart…..as were the words that became “The Storm Atlas”.

My poem was published in countless newspapers and magazines around the country. I was so touched that people could identify with it. I just had to get my feelings down on paper. It’s funny….even writing about it now makes my eyes well up with tears and I get a tingly feeling all over. I told my friend that I may cry while reading it in front of everyone……she said that was okay because most of the people in the audience will be crying too.

Here is my poem if you’d like to read it:

The Storm Atlas

Well, wish me luck tomorrow night…..it’s the first time I’ve ever read a poem out loud in front of an audience. Break a leg, right?! 🙂 ~Cheyenne