Monday, September 15, 2008

A Mighty Wind

(Yes, it was an obvious and easy joke. This is the last time I'll apologize for it.)

For all my local readers--which pretty much means all my readers--this isn't news, but we had one helluva wind storm here in middle Ohio yesterday evening. It was, as I have been told, remnants of Hurricane Ike passing wind across the country like any uncaring septuagenarian. We all felt the force of that wind and we all found it ill.

The lame joke portion of the post now completed, I--like others--will recount my experiences with the storm.

I was outside with Hannah in the mid-afternoon. I pushed her on the backyard swingset for a while, enjoying the neatness and orderly appearance of a freshly-mown yard. The backyard does look vastly improved since the patio is completed, the tired old plant beds have been professionally shaped, mulched, and generally spruced up with new plants and new ideas. AND Lynda worked very hard last weekend to clean up some of the wrecked ground from the patio construction--tilling and turning soil, removing LOTS of rocks, putting down new grass seed. The seedlings are now shooting through the earth after days of diligent watering and what was once crusty dirt is showing a fuzz of future green.

Good times all around.

So, I was enjoying this sight, pushing Hannah on the swingset and generally relaxing. Then I decided to take H. up to the "tower" portion of the swingset. We sat up there and Hannah enjoyed feeling the rougher texture of the wooden planks and attempting to eat leaves. I just enjoyed being outside. True, the wind was blowing strongly, but I didn't think anything of it. The Midwest has always seemed to me to be very windy--compared to the much stiller wind patterns of the deeper South.

Eventually we went back inside and I started thinking about what to make everyone for dinner. I settled on a menu and began chopping potatoes and boiling water for corn. Heck, I even made a sour cream/dill dipping sauce for the chicken tenders that I was baking in the oven. By now it was clear that the strongly whipping wind tossing the trees about outside was more robust than the normal weather pattern. I checked the TV and saw that, sure enough, there was a severe wind advisory warning for the next five hours. Okay, then, strong winds.

The dramatic angle of the trees made me reconsider my nonchalance. I began to fear for the integrity of our roof, the trees, and especially the small trunks of two trees in the backyard--one of which was newly planted. Luckily, both trees were wired to sturdy stakes and bent without breaking. The same could not be said for the taller trees in the yard who were viciously tossed to and fro by extremely strong gusts. I could see limbs down in our yard and neighbors behind us gathering up things past the fence. I decided to put our sun umbrella in the garage and to pull in the flag on the front porch. If the wind pulled them into the air, they would have made pretty damaging spear-like projectiles.

The power conked out for the first time half way through the chicken baking. Residual heat trapped inside the oven and the uniform thinness of the tenders made them perfectly edible once I got the potatoes (previously roasted) on the table with boiled corn on the cob. We ate in the evening twilight coming through the large windows. The power came back on and then off again twenty minutes later. On and then off; on and then off. It was never a long wait in between and we all had plenty of time to get the kids fed and upstairs to shower and bathe.

The only really concerning part of the ordeal for us was a banging noise that I identified as the uppermost gutter on the front of the house. The long nail-like fasteners were already a bit loose and the gusting winds had slowly pulled them further and further away from the eaves of the roof. Consequently, that gutter--which ran along the front face of the house just above three of the four bedrooms--was slapping around with each new gust. During one quick foray outside, I could see that the entirety of the gutter's long middle was loose and the whole trough was only being supported by the downspouts on either end. I was afraid that if either spout lost its grip, the long gutter might swing wildly in the wind and damage the roof or one of the windows or something. But it held together--we were lucky yet again. This morning it sagged above the house like some kind of drunken grin, but it stayed up.

In the end, we kept our power on. Our roof was fine. We had only minor limbs falling in most places. A significant limb broke off of a half-dead tree on the edge of my property beside the garage, but it just hung down without hitting the house in any way. When I got home from work today, I pulled it down easily and sawed it down into manageable pieces with my hand saw. But the tree itself is (and has been for a while) a useless, unattractive half-dead thing that resembles a broken wishbone. This storm damage will finally give me the reason I need to ask my neighbor to wield his chainsaw at it. (No, I'm not likely to use the chainsaw myself.)

The kids were out of school today due to the widespread power outages across the city. Luckily (again!) the daycare was up and running, so Lynda and I went to work as (mostly) normal. After hearing many tales of ripped up roofs and prospects of days without power, I am very thankful for the very minor inconveniences that my family has faced. And I consider that if I hadn't decided in May to cut down the large, dying tree that sat right in front of our house, I might have a very different story to tell today.

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