Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday: tornado!

I had gone to bed earlier than Ed. Exhausted, I fell asleep well before midnight. Not for long. My phone started buzzing and vibrating and then a message appeared: tornado warning!

Ed often sits out these warnings. Tornadoes are so rare here: it's been decades since any one did much damage around the Madison area. What are the chances? But, I coaxed him to pay attention to the warning, if only to keep me company as we huddled with my computer and phone in the basement while the winds roared outside.

Oddly, the internet never failed and the lights stayed on. But reports of damage began pouring in. Madison. Verona (which is just south of us). These were the know sites of a touchdown.

We went to sleep thinking that we were the lucky ones. In so many ways! When my daughter had first asked about doing the wedding here, my first thought was -- where will I hide 150 people if a tornado rips through? I mentally distributed guests throughout the lower portions of the farmhouse, remembered that we hadn't had a storm with severe damage in decades and pushed that thought out of my mind. This tornado came just days before the wedding but that surely is better than coming on the day of the big event itself!

At five, tired, but wanting to get my chores ticked off, I went to open the coop. At first, I didn't see it. Everything looked tensely still and rather gray.

But when I approached the sheep shed it became clear that we hadn't gotten get away unscathed. A large part of a monstrously large tree had crashed onto the sheep shed. I go inside: all seems in place (or in Ed's idea of place). But outside -- the roof is damaged and my new little flower bed is buried somewhere between the heavy limbs of a box elder.


There is more: the willow in back -- the designated site for the Saturday ceremony -- had split off one of its tallest fattest limbs, some 50 feet up above from where we were.  And of course, the ground was strewn with tree limbs -- heavy, light, very heavy, all shapes and sizes.

(for perspective: the white corner board of the sheep shed is 6'5'' tall -- so that Ed can stand up inside)

I would find more damage later on: the big maples lost many branches -- we have a cemetery of them in the front yard! And the second willow too had scattered limbs to the ground. (How a large limb found its way halfway down the property is beyond me, especially since it would have had to circumvent the writer's shed.)

After an hour or so of "I can do this by myself" bravado, Ed agrees to call our local pal the arborist with the tree service company. Needless to say, we are caller number 10692. Or some such high number. Because the tree guy lives nearby, he stops by to help us assess the severity of the damage. We all agree that in the immediate time period,  Ed and I can saw off most of the fallen branches. The long term project of dealing with the damage to the trees, we'll put on hold until after things calm down in Madison.

Not that I wasn't filled with a bit of regret as our friend pulled out of our driveway! Sawing off trunks nearly a foot in diameter suspended somewhere above us where the electric pole saw wont reach seems daunting.

We work, we pause to catch our breath, we work we pause to catch our breath.


This continues all day long.

Add to it the necessary main mowing that is on the timetable for today and we really do have our hands full.

But there are many upsides. For instance, there was absolutely no damage to the farmhouse. She stands proudly now. Resilient.


And though we didn't take breakfast outside and we didn't rush to it (it was past noon before I even hinted at pausing work), still, it was lovely to finally sit down to a bowl of oatmeal.


And one more sweet moment -- Farmer Lee's sister who works the little field in the back of the farmhouse brought us some young potatoes. She'd been harvesting them all day.



So yes, we consider ourselves to be quite lucky.

May that luck hold as a second storm system passes through tonight.