Friday, May 14, 2010
When you go to bed at night, do feel like your home is a safe haven for you? I’ve always felt safe in my house. It’s big. It’s sturdy. And having been built in 1905, it’s built well. Solid. Safe.
Lakewood is rather safe as well. Everything about Lakewood creates a comfort zone and sense of stability.
On the North Coast on the edge of Lake Erie we are protected from natural catastrophes as well. We aren’t in fear of earthquakes, or mudslides, or tsunamis, or volcanoes. We don’t have forest fires, or flooding, or tornadoes. We are seemingly insulated from disasters. At least those that Mother Nature is responsible for.
The last tornado on record in Lakewood was back in 1965. But one touched down here this past Friday night.
A joke here in Cleveland is ‘the weatherman can’t tell yesterdays weather’. Or ‘In Cleveland, just blink and the weather will change.’ It’s true. It does.
Weatherbug showed on their radar that a huge storm was headed our way last Friday. Allright, so what. I did the manditory pre-storm checklist and made sure all my tools were put away. Rakes and shovels put back in the garage, garage doors firmly closed and windows closed and locked. No biggie.
The wind started picking up around 7:00pm. The rain started hammering the house at 8:12pm. And then the hail started at 9:22pm.
Large as marbles, it hammered the back side of my home. Boo had a girlfriend over for a sleepover and the sound was deafening. They were a little scared by it, but a little intrigued all the same. We don't get that much severe weather here and I don't think Boo has ever seen (or heard) hail before.
“Mommy! WHAT is that out on the ground?” Boo asked.
“It’s hail, darlin’. BIG hail.” I replied. I can't remember, if ever, I've seen hail this big myself. I remember collecting some as a child that looked like peas, but never marbles.
“It’s the size of my marbles! Can I go out and get some?” she pleaded.
“Not unitl it stops. If those hit your head, it’ll hurt. Really, really hurt. Bad.”
So we watched.
And we listened.
And it WAS scary. It sounded as if there were a firing squad out on my deck firing off clip after clip of ammunition against my back windows. I thought they would break at any moment. And then I thought about my car. I failed to put it in the garage and it was sitting out in the drive. Under the pin oak. Imight as well have painted a bullseye on it. 'Incoming!' Ugh. I hope that it makes it through this unscathed.
Then the towns siren started.
Low at first and then drowning out even our conversation. It never goes off except for testing.
“I think maybe we should go downstairs for a bit.” I calmly suggested. At least I tried to sound calm. The wild look in my eyes belied my voice.
My basement is a basement made for a house built in 1905. It’s not the rec-room basement of modern built homes. The ceiling beams hang low and the copper pipes shine in the rafters. It has a laundry room and the rest is storage. Not exactly a place to hang out. But hang out is exactly what we did.
Grabbing a couple of bean bags to sit on we cleared a small area, drug a old discarded side table over and started to play cards. One game of rummy, three of old maid and then a rousing game of concentration using not one deck but two. With the storm booming through the house periodically even the dogs and cat came down to hang with us. When the siren subsided we ventured back upstairs. The power only flickered once. Just enough to turn off any televisions and clocks so the house permeated with an eerie blue glow.
When the storm was mostly past with just remnants of gusting wind blowing swirling debris, I ventured outside to find that the hail had sheared off freshly emerged leaves from the trees. They lay covering the driveway and lawn as if it were fall. But all the leaves were a fresh green, not brown after a seasons life. Small twigs and branches littered the area. My car looked as if it had been decoupaged with oak leaves.
I walked out to the tree lawn to inspect the damage up and down the street. My neighbor two doors down lost a large limb in the storm that smashed her new garage and punched out a couple of west windows in the process.
A friend in Clifton Park had lost power when a tree fell over their street. They just moved into their home in December and have been busy with yard work this spring. Her middle daughter was having her first communion on Saturday and they were in a rush to get the particulars together for the family party. Their home wasn’t damaged, but all their new landscaping was a mess. The power was out until Monday. The party was moved and all the food perished with the outage.
Everywhere you looked there were large 125 year old red oak trees uprooted and laid out across property lines. Clifton Boulevard is known for it’s oak lined parkway. Every third tree seemed to be on it’s side. Their large root systems exposed for all to see. It was sad sight. History in the making. Or unmaking as it were.
I have a rental property on Clifton Boulevard. A three family home that I had purchased back in 1991 and have owned since then. The property has two very large oaks in the back. I’m not necessarily a tree hugger, but if it’s still alive, I’ll keep it. By their sheer size, arborists have estimated their years to be somewhere in the 130-150 year old range. Those bad boys can stay there as long as they’d like. They were here long before I was.
I don’t do much for the trees. I have them fertilized from time to time. They come and inject goodies into it’s cambium layer. For a tree it’s like me sticking a B12 under my tongue. It gives them a little boost. I have them trimmed of their deadwood periodically, but I pretty much let them do their own thing. They are healthy for trees of that age. Every so often there will be a branch that dies off. It’s the way of the tree. It reverts it’s energy to another portion of itself to keep growing.
My neighbor behind the house hates my trees. She thinks ‘They are dead or dying. Cut them down.’ But they aren’t, so I won’t. It’s a point of contention between us. She doesn’t like me because of my trees. She has even called the City of Lakewood to file a formal complaint. But the city inspector doesn’t see anything wrong with my trees either, so they still stand.
I don’t think she’s going to be inviting me to tea any time soon.
Yesterday I drove in to visit with my dad. We had a great day. And after dinner he said, “You’d best get on your way back home.”
Dad’s kicking me out of the house? That’s unheard of. He usually asks if I can stay longer. “There’s a big storm coming and I want you to stay in front of it.”
Another storm? Argh. I just dodged a bullet with that last storm! With all the trees down, having found my dead branch that my neighbor hates to have still hanging on is a miricle in and of itself. But I don’t want to have to worry about another storm coming. I do have due diligence on my side. I am in possession of a signed contract to prove I was being proactive with the trees in case something does indeed happen before they get there, but still…please don’t let that branch fall before then. My neighbor will never, ever let me hear the end of it if that happens.
I suppose that branch shows just how strong and healthy those trees actually are.
Or stubborn. (like me)
The drive home was uneventful. But I checked the Doppler radar when I got back in front of my computer. Yup. There is was. A doozy of a storm front headed right towards us. One that shows red and yellow on the radar screen.
I went to bed feeling anxious.
And the storm did hit. In the middle of the night with large crashes of lighting and booming thunderclouds. The heavy downpour left my backyard a veritable pond.
But no downed branches or leaves this time around.
And the oaks at Clifton still stand.
Standing on my deck with my coffee this morning, overlooking what more yard work needs to be done to clean up after this last temper tantrum from Mother Nature, I can envision my neighbor doing the same. She's probably having her morning tea in her breakfast nook looking into her own backyard shaded by the branches of my tree that she hates. Lines creasing her forhead as she sees her nemisis, my trees, still hanging there majestically over the back of her property.
Another bullet dodged.
I do hope Mother Nature will take a few days off. That she will be nice to us for the next couple of weeks. I like me a good storm now and again. However I've still yard waste to pick up from LAST weeks storm, let alone the one from yesterday.
Mother Nature...please. With all due respect, just wait until the tree guys get here...