Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Big Storm Knocked it Over

This is the second time during this blogathon that I was glad to have my camera with me as I left the Amherst gym. This poor toppled tree went down last night in perhaps the windiest, wildest storm we've had in years. (For reference sake, this is just down the hill from where the "AMHESRT" sign appeared briefly a few weeks ago.)

I went to sleep at about 11:15 p.m. and was woken up by the phone (Alex) at 11:30 p.m. Right when we were hanging up, the wind was picking up, and all of a sudden, the curtains in my bedroom streamed into the room horizontally, and my door slammed shut, startling both me and the cats. Intense thunder and lightning followed, and then, eventually, rain. The power flickered on and off. I closed the windows part way so that the curtains would calm down. The door slammed again. Even though I'd been asleep and wanted to be asleep again, I felt like I needed to stay awake until I was sure a tree didn't fall on my house.

When I woke up, aside from some small branches scattered on the driveway and across the yard, there was no damage. Greenfield, I heard, was under a state of emergency. Schools were closed, main roads were blocked, and people were asked to stay inside until things were clear. I went to work in Amherst as usual, and the trip over was uneventful until I saw the end of the street my office is on blocked off with pylons. Then I noticed that the parking lot was nearly empty and the building open but dark. When I went in, I found only my boss and his assistant, who looked at me, puzzled, and said, "Didn't I call you?" The power lines at the end of the street were down, and the electricity company couldn't say exactly when they'd be back up. Later in the day, I did some errands and saw more road crews, more closed roads and more trees down. That tree at Amherst, though, was the biggest one. The bottom of it was taller than me. I don't even want to think about how old it was. I was impressed that the grounds crew had managed to keep the driveway open:

All day long, everywhere I went, I heard people talking about the storm, what they'd been doing when the wind started blowing and the trees started falling.

If I were more organized, I would end this with a quote from the book that gave this post its title, the late, lamented Laurie Colwin's last (but not best) novel. Instead, I'll end with a quote from what is definitely not A.S. Byatt's last but might be her best novel, Possession, which also ends with a dramatic storm involving toppled trees and downed wires:
In the morning, the whole world had a strange new smell. It was the smell of the aftermath, a green smell, a smell of shredded leaves and oozing resin, of crushed wood and splashed sap, a tart smell, which bore some relation to the smell of bitten apples. It was the smell of death and destruction and it smelled fresh and lively and hopeful.

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