I’m sitting here uneasily listening to the buzzing of chainsaws right behind me. Followed by booms.
The trees are coming down today, having been struck by lightning last month.
It happened the first night we were in Boston. July 7.
It had been a long day, flying in from Columbia, with a brief stop at LaGuardia. We had ridden around Boston to get our bearings, then checked into our B&B in Newton before walking around that area — checking out the location of the dance studio where the twins had their training with Boston Ballet, and other local features. We’d been up since 3:30 a.m., had put in 18,515 steps, and were ready to relax when we went to have dinner at O’Hara’s Food & Spirits on Walnut St.
My wife had ordered a chicken pot pie, while I had chosen the broiled steak tips, with a Guinness to wash it down. The food had arrived, and we had just started enjoying it when… I got a text from our neighbor in West Columbia.
He was checking on us to see if we were still alive. He was wondering why we hadn’t come out to see what had happened in our front yard — on account of the loud, booming crash. He had had a perfect view of it. He’d been in his garage watching the storm we knew nothing about, and his garage door perfectly framed the spectacle.
He said it was really something — the light flashed around multiple trees in the yard in various colors. He said it seemed to go on for about 10 seconds. He wished he’d shot video. Then, as soon as he said that, he apologized for seeming to speak of the event as a source of entertainment. I said no, don’t concern yourself — I wished he’d gotten video, too. I’d like to have seen it.
He did his best, though, going over and shooting some pictures of the damage. It was pretty spectacular, without the light show. There were streaks of stripped-away bark on at least three of the trees — a couple of pines and a sweetgum.
After we got back, we watched the pine nearest our house start going brown. I had an arborist out to look the situation over, and he said that one would definitely have to go, and mostly likely a couple of others as well. In the end, we decided to say goodbye to five of them, and they’re coming down now.
Mind you, this was not an isolated incident. We’ve had a rash of this sort of thing on our street lately. A neighbor across the other street (we’re on a corner) had trees behind the house hit a week or so before we did, and those came down just recently. They also had some damage in the house, from the charge running to it underground.
We had a bit of that ourselves. At the bottoms of the streaks down the trees were pits where earth had been blasted away, and then trenches dug toward the house where the roots ran. But the damage was minimal. It put two HD TV antennas — the kind you put in a window — out of action, without harming the TVs. It also, I just realized to my sorrow a couple of days ago, destroyed the electronics of my elliptical trainer — which was plugged into the same outlet as one of the antennae, on the same side of the house as the trees.
The worst damage, the thing that worried us the whole time we were in Boston, was that our upstairs air-conditioning went out. When my son checked on things the day after the storm, he found it was 105 degrees up here, so he turned the system off.
But we lucked out there. The only damage was to a valve, the loss of which had confused the system so that it was trying to cool the house by blowing heat. It was easy, and cheap, to fix.
The biggest deal is what’s happening now — the felling of the trees.
After this, the view from our house will be radically different. See that house across the street in the picture below (this is the other street, not the one from which my neighbor witnessed the event)? We’ll have a perfect, unobstructed view of that house after today, since all five trees between us and it will go.
Maybe we’ll plant something in place of them. I’m thinking a Japanese maple. Those are pretty cool…