Surveying the Damage

Sometimes, there is a sad story that needs to be told. And this is one of those. Just after 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning, our power went out. With no fans or air conditioning, and beset by worries about our fridge and freezer items defrosting, we slept fitfully at best after that.

When dawn came, we went outside, as is our custom. And as somebody drove past our neighbors' house, we heard them run over something in the road. So we went over for a look. That's my husband on the bike, surveying the damage.

It turns out that the neighbors' huge, gorgeous weeping willow simply fell over during the night. Planted by our neighbor in the 1980s, the tree had apparently grown top-heavy. There wasn't even a storm. It caught the power line and ripped it in half as it fell. Our house was the only one in the neighborhood without power.

Our neighbors apologized, of course. It was their tree, so it was sort of their fault. Though who can control what a tree does or does not do? The electric company technician, who arrived around 9, said he'd have been there sooner if we'd called the outage in the instant we knew about it.

But here are the things that had to happen: we had to find an old-fashioned phone that works without electricity. (No, neither of us owns a cell phone.) We had to find the latest power bill with the phone number to call. No Internet to search for it, right?

In a typical outage, the power usually goes right back on within an hour of when it went out. Seldom does an outage last longer than an hour or two. How were we to know it was caused by a fallen tree, and specifically one with our electric line as its target?

Power was restored to our house by 11 a.m., and the fridge and freezer contents were fine (no, we didn't open either door, not even ONCE during the outage), but the tree is still lying pretty much as you see it here.

I've had trees fall on our property before, so I know a little bit about that. Ask me sometime about the great ice storm of the first week of January 2005, when I had about 100 trees fall on my property, most of them landing on my freshly bought house!

Typically, you need to call the insurance company and have somebody come out for a look before you arrange for an arborist to come deal with it. I remember there being issues with how much the insurance would cover if the tree didn't actually HIT the house. And in their case, it fell forward, toward the road, not backward, toward the house. They were very lucky, I guess.

Except that now they are missing one huge tree. A mighty tree-heart has beat its last beat. There is a silence in the everlasting force. We are all sad, even those of us who got our power back and should be celebrating. Of all the things in the world that make me sad, I hate to witness the death of a mighty tree.

I think this story calls for a sad song. So here is one of those: Elton John, with Sad Songs (Say So Much).

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