Friday, May 14, 2010

majestic trees...

Are you safe?

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...


  1. hi Nanacy...first I want to say I was born in Cleveland and my it is my mother's native home. My closest family still lives there. My father went to case for dental school and met my mother and they married and stayed there until 1965 when my dad could no longer stand "the storms" and weather. back to california we moved to the land of infrequent storms but many earthquakes and fires! My mother never forgave my father for making her leave her home...until a few years ago when we went back for a family occasion. It was cold and stormy and she finally admitted the weather in LA was better. but Cleveland will always be her home. I know it is off topic of your post but I had to share!!

  2. Or maybe, just maybe, Karma will see a way to have that neighbor walking under that branch when it lets go...

    I'm a tree-hugger and unashamed by it.

  3. My mother lives in a retirement community in Fl and they all hate trees. I guess for the reason you talk about, and roots messing things up. This blows my mind. In NJ we lived in a beautiful tree-line neighborhood, much as you describe yours. Every few years storms would knock a tree down and very occasionally a house would get damaged. But how does this compare to the shade and beauty?? I'm glad you're all safe!

  4. Well I'm glad your home is safe and nothing horrible happened to your trees :)

    It seems this weekend we're going to get some of your weather too. It was foggy this morning and we're supposed to have thunderstorms throughout the day! Yay for free water for my garden ;)

    I have to admit though when the storms hit out here in TX I always fear a tornado will hit. There hasn't been one in the city since 1970 but it would be very scary!

    Have a good weekend!

  5. Very scary! Mother Nature always has a few tricks up her sleeve. Nothing scares me more than thunder and lightning...except maybe earthquakes.

  6. Did you have any hail damage on your car? My old car was pocked all over from my forgetfulness. Hated it.

  7. Sheesh! Being from MI we have the same jokes....oh for predictible weather!

  8. Wow! How scary. I'm happy you are all okay and house in in tact. I'll have a little talk w/ Mama Nature fur'ya. :)

  9. I'm glad you made it through the rough weather safely! At least you don't have exploding houses in your neighborhood.

    I bought a house once, thinking that the oaks shading the back yard were nice. After the first hurricane, I felt differently. I was relieved to sell that house, and move to one which did not have big trees overshadowing it. ;-)

  10. I live in an ocean resort city, so we ride out hurricanes every year. I am a few miles from the beachfront, but I have about eighteen 40 or more foot pines (and a colossial Oak) in my yard. As I watch them bend fruiously in the wind and branches break, I don't feel so why don't we just cut them down? They are beautiful. They provide shade and insulation to our home and comfort to the wildlife. But I guess even so, I feel safer than if I lived right at the ocean. And then the big question is are we really safe anywhere? I guess I don't worry nearly as much now that the kids are grown. There used to be a huge tree between their bedroom and close to the house...we had that one cut down when we first moved in because I was so frightened it woulld fall over them.

  11. So glad you made it safely thru the storms. Spent more than my share of time growing up in the basement myself. Gotta admit I miss the thunder/lightening shows. Around here they just lead to fires...

  12. eek that is scary! Storms always make me anxious, especially hail that sounds like a firing squad!
    It's like the animal instinct takes over, the world you thought was safe becomes volitile and untrustworthy
    we are so oblivious sometimes to how quickly it can be taken from us, so busy are we in our lives that we forget the fragileness of the nests we create...just a big gust of wind can put it all to an end.
    i am very happy for you that no big time damage was done and you are all safe and sound

  13. I like the dedcription of your big old oak tree.
    Here in Qld we get storms every summer. most days we get a storm. some of them are rippers! Hail is a regular occurence and last summer we had several storms with golf ball sized hail and bigger. the biggest hail i have ever seen was tennis ball size and I don't want to see the damage that any bigger does. after the storms the car yards have hail sales and a bargain is to be found if you don't mind a less than smooth exterior. :)
    I am thankful that our area misses the worst fo the winds. not far from here is an area that usually really gets blasted in the storms - it is only about 10km away. it is amazing how the storms seem to hit the same spot over and over.
    glad to hear that you are safe.

  14. Haha! And she was hoping those trees were history! They sure proved her wrong.

    I'm glad you guys made it through that-storms of THAT magnitude I have no experience with, but they are pretty scary. I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard there was no major damage (tree falling on roof/car etc.).

    Sorry for not commenting in a while, but every time I tried to get onto your page, it shifted to another one with a clock on it. :( But I'm here now!

  15. I hope Mother Nature is more considerate of you than she usually is of me. Most often, if I ask for something, she sends the opposite. It's personal.

  16. Mother Nature normally visits in cycles. Here's hoping she's bugging someone else for a while, huh? :)

  17. I live in another Cleveland down in Mississippi... all we have to have is some kind of weather foul up... and let a warm air front collide with a cold front... and we have tornadoes all over the place...

    As much as I love trees, I'm glad it was only a tree...


  18. I love storms like that! Even when we had tornado warnings when I was a kid, it was fun to go down to the basement and play board games :) I'm glad your trees are still OK! I can't believe that your neightbor wants you to cut them down!

  19. Storms - so scary - but equally so splendid in their majesty! Sad that history is lost with these magnificent trees. But what a wonderful statement to replace them and make a new future. The world would be very sad if we were all the same, but think of the fantastic world that has been created by your tree... perhaps your neighbour has no imagination. And yeah I can get back onto your site, so shall catch up on all the reading I've missed.

  20. Trees are gorgeous, especially really old ones. It pains me if I have to take one out. Yours sound magnificent and I'm very glad they made it through the storms.

  21. @DrSoosie - A fellow Clevelander! If only by birth...I'm glad that youi DID share that info with me! If you ever come back 'home' you have to make sure to let me know! I'd LOVE to get together!

    @IntenseGuy - You are soooo bad. ;-)
    If the branch lets loose, I don't want HER to be under it, just her mercedes.

    @Maureen- I know, maybe it IS an age thing. The neighbor next door will sit on her front porch and go out and pick up each individual leaf as it falls in her yard. It's strange, but true. Needless to say she'd like me to cut them down too. I'm killing two old birds with the same stone. hehehe

    @Seneorita Andulicana-I hope YOU have a great weekend too! Both of our without severe storms!!!!

    @Janice- I've never been through an earthquake and hope to keep it that way!

    @Carlos- No, no hail damage that I can tell, thank God. I think all the leaves covering it protected it in some weird way. It was like a nature bubble wrap. :-)

    @suzicate- In this last storm I could hear the tree on the north side of my house scrapping up against the house. All night I heard the branch rubbing against the side and all I could think about is the movie Poltergeist when he was counting between the thunderclouds. And then the branch crashed in through the window. I almost went down to sleep on a lower level in the house that night!

    @Dee- TENNIS ball sized hail? Oh my....yowzer.

    @Oddyoddyo13 - Yea! I heard from a few people that the page was doing that to some people. We've had a heck of a time figuring out whast the culprit was. Might not ever know! The template host said it was something I was doing and I was saying that they had a bug....bah. But if it's working now! WooHOO! Thanks for coming back!!!

    @Matthew - Mother Nature/ cycles...makes me think of something else us women have to deal with other than the weather. :-)

    @Red Shoes - I'm glad that we don't get many of those kind of storms up here! When I was out walking yesterday I noticed that as the cleanup continues with the downed trees, many of the fallen were actually hollow on the inside. So it's just their way of making room for the new young trees to take over the boulevard. Circle of life happens with trees as well. :-)

    @Alladinsane12- I think I'll just keep trimming them instead of anything drastic to just bug my neighbor. :-) Now had she asked nicely.....

    @Tinkerbell- I'm so glad you're back as well! Sorry about that. Here I was just trying to make the site look nicer and the people hosting the template messed it all up. Bah.

    @catch the kids - Nothing like a tree that it takes three people with arms outstretched to be able to reach around! If only they could talk and share with us what they've been through. :-)

    Thanks to EVERYONE for your comments! I hope you all have a great weekend!


  22. I keep waiting for "the big one" that will finally push over my garage that's been listing to starboard for the past 25 years... no such luck. The storm that hit you last weekend passed through Rochester as well. Lots of downed limbs, but nothing major.

  23. One of the joys of Lakewood. I don't miss my power going out every time it rained and looking across the street to the apartments with CPP instead of CEI and seeing their lights on bright as day.

  24. Those storms blew past us prior to hitting you, and believe me, it wasn't any fun in a trailer!

    Glad you didn't have any serious damage. Keep those magnificent trees as long as possible!

    As you can see, I'm not having a problem commenting anymore!

  25. We had weather like that too, but ours turned into two solid days of the stuff with a total of between 13 and 16 inches of rain in those two days and the worst flooding in the last 100 years. I was evacuated Sunday night the 2nd of May , was able to finally get into the house again on the 5th after the water subsided. Have spent the last week and a half tearing out sheetrock, carpet, carpet pad and moving all my stuff. And now it is tornado season. Bleh. Glad you and Boo are safe and no major damage.

  26. We had a tornado watch in the next county yesterday and I was thanking my lucky stars that it didn't hit us. We had a pretty intense rainstorm, but I can handle that. :)

    Glad your trees and house are ok!

  27. I just had a friend in Oklahoma size up a storm and retreat to her basement shelter (constructed 11 years ago after a similar storm) with her husband and cat. Two minutes later, her house was gone. Her cars rolled. Her possessions in the next county. Be careful out there!

  28. I'm so jealous. I love storms....but where ever we move they avoid (I get a migrane when they are on the way so we don't bother with the weather report). I'm now known as the storm nemesis....I must be electostatic or something....anyhow it's a cruel irony so nice to spend that time down in the basement (we don't have them in this country either) with you, even if just whilst I read your post :)

  29. Why does Mother Nature always strike at night!! Glad you are ok.

  30. Hey Nancy! Wowsers, wild weather. Glad you're all in one bit. And a hat tip to your dad for sending you home. Indigo

  31. Very nice, even if a little scary. A mini adventure, maybe a bit more safe than some.

    I love trees and plants of all kinds. I love how they take our waste and turn it into air and food.

    Thanks for sharing this. It was great to read.

  32. We get that kind of dramatic weather here in Austin, too. It can be scary, and expensive to fix the hail damage. But there is NO WAY I would cut down a tree so not have to deal with the hassle of it all. Also, the few years I lived in Portland where there was just a steady drizzle all the time, I came to really miss the tension and release of a good storm. (Hail and tornadoes, though, I can do without.) Glad you're all safe!

  33. well told and we've had some severe weather here in NC this year. not sure if something significant has changed but i suspect it has.

  34. So glad you're safe and sound. Truly. I hate tornado season.

  35. Sounds like you had a hell of a storm. I live in St. Louis, so tornadoes around here are not really out of the ordinary. Surprisingly, I've never seen one myself, but they happen all the time around this time of the year. Glad you guys were ok.

  36. So glad to hear your trees are still alive and well! When I was living in TX, our tree fell onto our neighbor's house during a storm... they got a new roof. Fortunately we were all friends- before and after. =)

  37. Hiya honey! :) I'm back...sort of....and where is one of my first of course! :)

    Tough storms this season aren't they? Last Thursday I stayed over at my bf's house and we actually had a tornado touch down just outside of my town and go right down first street...(the street i live on), it actually just kinda of loomed above us....knocking down the biggest trees, taking chimneys and shingles off houses, i was lucky my house was fine, but it was scary, tornado siren and everything weather.

    I'm ready for some sunshine....I'm ready to enjoy's sunny.

    Sunshine & Smiles from Delphos, Ohio,

  38. @CatLdyLarew - A neighbor of mine is always hoping that something will take out his garage so he can have the insurance pay for it to be rebuilt, but of course, that never happened. He built a new one two years ago and guess what? Yup. A tree fell on it.

    He's pissed.

    @Julie Jeffs - OMG! I saw your pictures and read your posts about the evac! Unbelieveable. And here I am complaining about our little storm system. I hope everything is okay for you. Please keep me posted. {{{hugs}}}

    @MurrBrewster - A friend of mine wants to build something in the backyard 'just in case'. I always thought it rather silly. But I'm starting to think it might be a better idea than not with this wacky weather lately! Glad to hear thst your friend was smart enough!!!

    @HeatherLynn - welcome back! And yes, it IS quite gorgeous today (just like you) Glad to hear that YOU too made it through those storms okay and unscathed. Crazy stuff wasn't it?

    Thanks to ALL for the well wishes about us making it through the storms. Please say a little prayer for my bloggy friend Julie Jeffs that had to be evacuated from her home in Tennessee due to flooding. She's made some posts about what they went and are going through. Please go check it out. Just click on Julie's name above and it'll take you to her blog. So sad.....


  39. We had a big storm here just after the magnolia trees had bloomed. After the rage was over, the blossoms lay all over the road, soggy and smushed - very sad. I hope this is it for your storm season! And good for you for sticking up for your trees :)
    I am a fan of Dreamfarm Girl, too. She has lovely, thoughtful posts.


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