It had been raining for a couple of hours, and little icicles started gathering on everything - they made the colorful lights even more beautiful, making me forget for a while that icy conditions like these can be dangerous whether you are on the road or supposedly tucked safely in your warm cozy home. We went to bed, expecting to have to deal with a lousy morning commute and not much more in a few hours....
We woke up to this....
The power had gone out at 11:00 P.M. or so, and I gave a passing thought to my ability (or not) to wake up without the assistance of an alarm. That wasn't a problem though, for during the night the sound of rain, sleet, wind and this eerie cracking sound disturbed my sleep just enough that when 6:30 rolled around I felt I had to get up to see what the world looked like.
This is one of our sentimental favorite birch trees - transplanted 12 years ago from a nearby lot destined to be cleared. We knew it would come down sooner rather than later, but not like this.
As the sky illuminated our yard, we found a thin layer of ice covered everything, and even each individual blade of grass was frozen solid. It crunched under your feet as if you were walking on glass.
Half of the birch had fallen into our yard, the other half along the fence to the left. The woods behind us creaked eerily with every gust of wind. We realized that the strange cracking noises we had heard during the night - they sounded almost like a crack of thunder, or a gunshot, followed by shattering glass. What caused those sounds were the limbs or even entire trees, weighted by ice, snapped and falling.
Birches are not strong trees - they grow fast around here, too fast to build up the strength required to sustain severe weather.
We lost about 6 trees on our property - one of our Bradford Pears above, and our Autumn Blaze below. This little tree survived being accidentally whacked by a backhoe ten years ago, but this storm was too much.
As the sun came out and the sky turned blue, the trees - those that had fallen and those that still managed to stand - looked as if they were made of crystal.
But upon closer inspection, we saw evidence of those loud cracking sounds that plagued us through the night. Everywhere you looked, the tops of trees had been snapped off.
In our back yard stands a Sugar Maple. It has been leaning precariously for many years, but we've pruned it and babied it, hoping to make it last. Lately we've kept a close eye on it, as we are in a quarantine area for an Asian Longhorn Beetle infestation that is devastating this type of tree in our area. Some 20,000 trees have been spray painted with red, marking it for removal. Our tree survived that, but all day Friday and into the weekend we eyed our maple warily, expecting it to fall. It still stands in our back yard, a symbol of how lucky we are.
As shocking as our neighborhood looked, we soon realized we were lucky to have only sustained moderate cosmetic damage to our landscaping. Our home, although without power, heat or hot water for over three days, is intact, no damage other than a useless cable torn from our house. (It had been for cable televison - we've had satellite for over three years now.) Two houses away, our friends were virtually trapped in their house, their long driveway buried in fallen trees. And beyond their house, a large maple had fallen into another neighbors house, practically cutting it in half. Another friend not only had a tree land on his house, but his basement flooded. I found that had I attempted to go to the office on Friday, I would surely have been turned back. Trees and downed power lines covered nearly every road out of town. Most of the roads we closed until Saturday anyway.
But we have a lot to be thankful for - my husband, on a whim, went to the nearest Home Depot Saturday morning to see if by chance they had any generators left. They did, and we now own one, however an hour later when we brought or neighbor to get one, there was a line of 50 people putting their names on a list to get one! The barely used wood stove we purchased last year is now like a member of the family - one of my cats spent the powerless weekend curled up in front of it, content as only a cat can be. Our power came back on at 3:30 P.M. Sunday....there are people not far from me who have been told to expect electricity to be restored in 2 weeks. We did not turn on our Christmas lights at first - it almost felt like we would be flaunting our good fortune. But then I remembered how seeing Christmas lights a few miles away on Saturday night had lifted my spirits and we switched them on. I remember thinking, "Well, THOSE people have power. It's getting closer to us!" Hopefully our lights will give someone else hope that normality will soon be here, and all we'll have left are a few cool pictures, some crazy stories, and a 5,000 watt generator that hopefully we'll never have to use again.