The day after storms cut through Nashville, Fawn Bonning was surprised to see debris on her property in Livingston, Tennessee. She found a photo, some plastic foam and then a well-traveled memento — a menu from High Garden.
The tea and herb shop in East Nashville is 100 miles away.
“I just couldn’t believe it. I brought it home, showed my husband, and he looked it up, and sure enough, they had been damaged,” Bonning says.
From photos, to jewelry, to sports jerseys and even an airport sign, the tornado on March 3 scattered belongings all over Tennessee. For some business owners who found remnants of their livelihoods across the state, these objects were powerful reminders of the recovery still to come.
High Garden wasn’t just damaged — it was destroyed. This was devastating to owners Leah and Joel Larabell, who say their tea shop was a healing sanctuary for the community.
“What hurts so bad is, I kept telling myself like, she didn’t … deserve this,” Leah Larabell says, referring to the shop. “Like, that was so violent.”
When she started hearing that the menus were being found across Tennessee, she was amazed by how far they had blown. “It just shows how much she opened up,” Larabell says.
High Garden was the kind of place that welcomed nature in. It was full of dried plants for consumption and healing, raw wood, hanging herbs, seeds, tinctures and sage. Larabell says she finds some comfort knowing that, in its end, nature took the shop.
‘She Got To Be Nature’
“What better way than for nature to just swoop through and open the windows and open the ceiling?” Larabell says. “She flew, and she got to be nature. She truly got to be one.”
Down the road in Hermitage, another business owner, Maggie Nelson, is experiencing a similar mix of loss and gratitude. Nelson is the owner of Magnitude 10.0, a recreational and competitive gymnastics facility. Just like High Garden, it was completely devastated by the storm.
“The gym is gone,” she declared, stunned, in a video she took hours after the tornado.
Among the mass of things missing from her gym were her air floors — inflatable mats that gymnasts can use while training to limit impact and overuse injuries. One of Nelson’s air floors was found more than 40 miles away in Carthage.
This mat, carried away in the tornado, has become a symbol to her of resilience.
“Look how you can survive,” Nelson says. “You can survive the worst things. That’s what that mat means to us.”
Nelson plans to reopen Magnitude 10.0 in the coming months. The new facility will have a small room that memorializes the night of the storm, complete with the air floor now signed by students.
As for High Garden, Leah and Joel Larabell are continuing their wholesale operations and taking some time to decide the shop’s new incarnation.
But they know, if High Garden’s menus travelled across the state, then so did its herbs. Soon, new plants will grow from seeds that were widely distributed by a force of nature.