The yard was covered with the usual debris, perhaps deeper than normal, but nothing we couldn't clean up.

The water garden before IsabelThe water garden after IsabelI stepped onto the back porch to see how badly flooded my water garden was. It was located in a marshy place and I expected it to be flooded now and then. I didn't expect it to disappear altogether. It was buried under fallen trees layered like pick-up sticks and God knows what else that blew into the marsh during the night. The clean up would require chest waders, chain saw, and hours of labor in the muggy air.

We began work immediately. Put on sturdy clothing with long sleeves and long pants. Put on gloves.

Start anywhere. Find the end of a tree branch. Pull it somewhere, anywhere with relatively clear space to begin a brush pile. Find another branch and drag it to the pile. Stack the brush so it all lies in the same direction--stub ends on the right; bushy, leafy ends on the left. Leave the biggest branches in place for subsequent reduction by chainsaw.

When all the debris in an easy distance of a pile is collected, return to the pile and reduce its branches with pruners and loppers. Restack the parts in piles of similar sizes.

When the pile is reduced and sorted, fetch the wood chipper and feed branches into it. Rake and shovel the chips into the lawn cart and haul it away with the tractor to dump up by the compost heap.

Fetch the chainsaw and battle with it to get it started. Cut up the logs so they'll fit in the cart. Toss them into the cart. Haul them away and dump them in a ravine.

This work continued eight hours a day for two sweaty weeks in Virginia's steamy late-summer air.