Coming home and finding your house a smouldering wreckage, burned down to the foundation – that’s not what happened to me. For some reason, though, I dread it; it’s why I have a whole mental check-list I run through before I depart and arrive, walking down the list of systems that need to be turned off (or on) when I am home or away.
I landed at Washington, Dulles around 8:00pm last night and hit the road for the 3hr drive back up to the farm. So (allowing for bathroom and drink breaks) I got home around midnight, roared into the dark and dust called “my driveway” and up to the house, to be greeted by this:
One of the pine trees in front of the house managed to fall and more or less just miss my truck. It landed pretty much dead on the spot where I usually park my highway car (I have a winter/utility car, and a distance car). This is not what you want to come home to:
The tail-lights on the right of the picture are those of my Chevy Tahoe.
Amazingly, it did not appear to have hit any part of the car hard enough to do any damage. And it missed the porch roof, which is good. (To be fair, the trees are not allowed to grow tall/close enough to fall on the house. I’ve seen what that looks like.)
I figured that there must have been quite a blow. There were branches everywhere. These blew the 50 feet from the treeline to the roof and there were branches on the porch. It was fun coming home in pitch darkness and walking into pine branches, wondering if my house was OK. But there wasn’t much to do about it, and I certainly wasn’t going to waste my time doing damage assessment in the dark, so I went to bed and decided I’d start dealing with it in the morning. One of my first rules of crisis management is “if you can, sleep on it.”
I’m pulling forward the schedule for my annual spring gutter-cleaning; that stuff is going to jam up everything and then the gutters won’t redirect water away from the house properly.
It turns out I was pretty lucky – the branches just made some sap-marks down the side of my car but nothing heavy hit it. I usually park the Honda CR-V to the left of the Tahoe, i.e.: right where the tree landed.
In 1988 I was driving North on Baltimore’s Charles Street (just past Coldspring Lane) in my little Honda CRX, and I heard a weird sound and looked in the rear-view mirror and the road was gone. All there was, that I could see, was green. A huge oak tree had fallen right behind me. I was so mind-boggled by the whole thing that I slowed down but kept driving – what else was I to do? It wasn’t until I got a few miles further that I realized, from the timing, that the tree would have already been falling when I drove right out from under it. If I had been aware what was going on, I probably would have braked and that would have been the end of me! Then I pulled over and had a brief panic attack.