WOW! What a night and what a day!
An unexpectedly violent storm hit Western Washington last night (this is not news for those of you that live here) and we in the Puget Sound region took the brunt of it, even more so here in the South Sound. Tacoma was hit particularly hard with 45,000 losing power. 160,000 lost power in the region.
Losing power is not a big deal for me; I have intentionally set up the house to deal with such things. Gas freestanding fireplace, gas stove, gas hot water. No power? Whatever… It’s all ambiance to me.
Two attic windows getting blown in (at least the glass stayed intact) and my living room windows rattling hard enough that I considered taping them and heading for the basement was not quite so enjoyable.
A few houses on my street to the North of me had power, other than that, the Hilltop (where we never lose power) was a sea of darkness, interrupted only by the flash of lightning, exploding transformers and the flashing lights of emergency vehicles which seemed to be everywhere.
Around 10:30 PM, despite the sound of howling wind, rattling windows, transformers exploding all over town, lighting crackling/thunder booming and seemingly endless sirens I decided to go out and check on the greenhouse and the chickens.
The chickens were scared but fine; the Plexiglas roof I put over their run was gone and the panels nowhere to be found, but the coop was secure.
The greenhouse was,quite remarkably, untouched.
That’s when I saw it, illuminated by a lighting flash, through the power outage induced darkness, and my heart sank.
My beloved old pear tree (estimated to be between 60 and 100 years old) had snapped off at the roots and was dangling precariously from the garage, the phone and/internet/cable lines and the equally old Hawthorne tree ready at the slightest wind gust or change of direction, to gouge a huge hole in my garage roof, destroy my fence, take the other tree out and smash my neighbor’s truck
I’m telling you, it was pretty darn creepy at night in the storm snapping and creaking
The Hawthorne tree was snapping and cracking under its weight and I was afraid that it would smash the fence and my neighbor’s truck at any moment. I knew there was nothing to be done in those conditions, but I stood out there contemplating solutions anyway, because that’s what I do.
That’s when something large (and potentially dangerous) flew past my head and I decided to head back inside to think.
I finally got to bed about 1:30 AM and didn’t really sleep. I was up at 5:00 AM because that’s what my body is used to.
I got my 3-G Wireless Hot Spot set up on my Android phone so that I had internet access (I can send email from my phone but the lists don’t work) and sent out a call for help.
My neighbors Steve and Jim showed up as did my friends Patricia and Daniel (several other friends called and offered to come over-I have awesome friends). Daniel had a pole mounted chainsaw which was the perfect tool for getting the top bits down to minimize movement and the chance of taking out the phone line.
One of the super tricky parts of this was the fact that the phone lines were the only thing between this tree and lots of other damage.
here it is with the smaller branches taken off (the untouched line in the back ground is my cable/internet which slid right out of the tree when it went down (miracle I’m telling you)
We braced the two major trunks with a rock bar and wood in hopes that as pressure was released the tree would not spin out of control.
Once we got the top and small branches off (needed to get some weight off of it) we started in on the bigger branches.
I couldn’t get a picture of the final cut that released the tree from the lines without smashing the fence because it took both of us, but it was pretty darn cool.
I was going to have Scott from Calendula out to pollard this tree in an attempt to save it (it was choked nearly to death by Old Man’s Beard Vine) because even half dead, it still gave me pears this year.
I’m sad that I lost it, but after discovering why it went down, I realize that it could not have been saved.
It had only one live root left and the main trunk was hollow.
Daniel (aka Monkey Boy) was also good enough to climb the Hawthorne Tree (what was left of it, a lot of it came down with the pear tree) to get the rest of the vines and dead stuff out of it. Hopefully it will be more happy and healthy now.
The firewood is bucked up and stacked, the debris (including old vines and stumps that I needed to take out anyway) was taken to the landfill and I’m left with some very minor roof and gutter repairs on the garage, the chicken coop and a more permanent solution to securng the attic windows that blew in.
I will plant a new pear tree and have enough room for a dwarf peach tree as well. The garden will also get way more sun.
Goodbye old friend. You were a good tree…