If a tree falls in the forest, does it have to block my driveway … or knock out my power?
About a week ago, my wife and I were minding our own business, happily reconnecting over a board game. Every now and then we make it a point to ask – how’re you doing? Two minutes later we were all caught up and focused back on the game. That’s when it happened.
A loud bang startled us! It reminded me of the footfall of the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. Immediately after that, I heard what sounded like gushing water.
I feared the worst: I imagined my hot water tank explosively releasing its contents all over the cellar floor. But then, thankfully, the power went out, so I ruled out a mishap downstairs in favor of a nearby tree falling on the street. The water sound was simply the leafy branches hitting the ground, one by one. We live in a densely forested neighborhood, which is great for privacy but is not too terrific for uninterrupted power.
As falling trees go, we could be considered veterans of these phenomena. This was the third incident of a tree falling on or near my property. The other two times, it was because of winter storms: fallen trees presented formidable obstacles to the ingress and egress of my driveway. We were trapped both times, but in each case in a mere few days, we were able to coax chainsaw experts to release us by cutting through the two foot-diameter trunks.
Without power during one of those incidents, we took advantage of the time to conduct an experiment:
How cold can a house get if the only heat source is a wood-burning fireplace?
Well, we ran out of wood. Despite that, we kept the fireplace stoked 24/7 with as many stray bits of wood as we could find. I recall that a pair of crutches that my wife had used after knee surgery gave off a pleasant aroma; it was probably the lacquer finish. When those kinds of fuel sources ran out, we turned to any furniture that both of us agreed we could sacrifice.
At the conclusion of the experiment, we documented the house temperature at 45 degrees Fahrenheit; 7 degrees Celsius. Scientifically speaking, Brrrr!
Lesson learned. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, and I pony up the dough for a generator.
This time, the generator kicked in as it’s supposed to. The only trouble is, we didn’t size it to run the central air-conditioning. Why would we?
We checked the street, to find that a tree did indeed come down. It wasn’t across my driveway or on my property, but it would block any oncoming cars just outside my house. It fell toward our neighbor across the street, effectively blocking his driveway too.
My mailbox was supporting the dead tree. It’s a little wobbly now, but that’ll happen when a few hundred pounds of wood fall on you.
I marveled that a policeman was already on the scene. In the first Jack Reacher movie with Tom Cruise, there was a scene where he congratulated the police on their response time after he’d just beaten up five thugs. They’d been alerted by some prophetic bad guys, even before the fight started.
Hmm. You don’t think somebody knew the tree would fall, do you?
Thankfully, the officer had already called in the problem by the time we saw him. Not too much later, we heard the sweet sound of chain saws. Soon after that, the main power was restored. All is well in the neighborhood again.
But now I pay special attention to For Sale signs in treeless neighborhoods.
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