Mondays–V2E27–Lightning Strikes and the Thunder Rolls

I’ve never been particularly afraid of storms when I can see what’s coming but I’m not a big fan of them either, especially when it sneaks up on me at night. I remember as a child, my mom would have to safety pin the drapes closed to block as much lightning as possible because she knew I wouldn’t sleep if she didn’t. Back then, there was no crawling in bed with your parents when you were scared, you just had to tough it out.

As I’ve said before, the Great Hunter (hereinafter referred to as GH–not to be confused with Good Housekeeping, lol) loves his chain saw. He loves cutting things down and chopping them up and if I’d let him, he’d probably cut down all my trees, just for the heck of it.
When he and I got married 24 years ago and he moved into my home, there were three large pine trees in the backyard. These trees were in a row along the fence and the branches reached to the ground. Each of the trees’ widest diameter was about 8′. I really liked these trees. They provided great privacy from the unfriendly nextdoor neighbors and the kids liked to play under their drooping branches.

I think I’ve also mentioned before that GH and I are often not on the same page when it comes to doing things. I don’t recall if he asked me whether or not he could trim the trees or whether he just decided to do it. Had I known what he had in mind, I never would have okayed it. I remember coming home that day and much to my horror, he had trimmed all the branches off the bottom of the trees about 6′ up.

Fast forward to December 2006.  It was not thunder and lightning, but an ice storm that covered everything in a thick coating of ice.  I was thankful we still had electricity when many people did not. I was alone that night, sleeping peacefully when I was startled awake by a loud crash that shook the house. That was probably the most scared I have ever been and I ran screaming from my bedroom.

I had no idea what had happened until I looked outside. To my utter surprise, one of my pine trees, the one closest to the house, had fallen on the house and struck right above my bedroom window. Luckily the damage, at least to the house was minor, but it did major damage to my psyche. Since that time, I have been unable to sleep during a thunderstorm. Why? All the pine trees had been cut down. But in the corner of our yard, at the top of the hill, sits a very large, very old cottonwood tree. This tree is probably 4′ in diameter and 60′ tall. It wonderfully shades the yard, but since the pine tree hit the house, I have been terrified that this tree would fall, and if it did, it would crush the house and everyone in it.

So where am I going with this rambling story? Last Saturday afternoon during a particularly nasty thunderstorm, we were away from home having lunch.  My gallant knight in shining armor, GH, ran out in the downpour to get the truck while I waited in the glass lobby of the restaurant. I was watching the pouring rain and the cars on the highway in front of the building when a bolt of lightning hit the road. It made the loudest crack I have ever heard and scared the bejesus out of me.

We drove home in the torrential downpour. Not too long after we got home, the rain eased and we took our Millie out to do her business. GH was standing under the eave and I heard him say “Oh my god. Come here, you have to see this.” Of course, I’m very accustomed to him expecting me to come when he yells for me but I most often answer with “don’t bellow at me from another room old man.” Something though in the urgency of his voice, made me think, maybe this time I should. He pointed to the big cottonwood and there in the fork of the tree was what appeared to be a split. OMG is right.

We both stood there staring at the tree. But the more we stared, the more I realized that the tree (luckily) had not been split at the fork but had been hit by lightning.Walking through the yard, we could see that pieces of bark had exploded across the yard. I’m so thankful I wasn’t home when this happened. It would have definitely sealed the fate of this tree. Now, it’s up in the air as to whether or not the tree will stay. The defining factors are the cost of removing it (upwards of $8,000) and what internal (if any) damage done to the tree. So far, a week later, the tree doesn’t appear to be traumatized other than one of the vines growing up the side. I would have been happy if it had killed them all.

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