Western wind, when wilt thou blow
Last week’s wild, whipping wind reminded me of the big windstorm of 1975. I don’t know how last week’s compared to that one, which in my memory was a doozy, but this year’s was a significant sleep interrupter.
Back in ’75, in the middle of a clear and starry night sky, the wind suddenly picked up in and about the Sonoma Valley. It howled and railed, while the buildings and trees all around responded with eerie creeks and groans that didn’t sound natural. It was close to Thanksgiving and my entire family was visiting, Mama, Papa, sister, brother and assorted relatives of less consequence. All were amazed by the raging winds and wailing sounds around.
As the wind began to pick up, the first thing we did was call the dogs in from the storm. Out on the front terrace they were quickly covered with debris from falling leaves and branches. When they came into the house and shook violently in the front hall, leaves flew everywhere. And the wind continued to howl. Down O’Donnell Lane, at the old Ugby house, a huge old oak tree blew down, crashing right near the house, waking occupant Marsha with a frightful start.
Across the highway, a towering eucalyptus at the entrance to Oak Hill Farm blew over, luckily toward the farm and not onto the road.
At our house, an old 120-foot tall Doug fir, three-feet thick and standing inches from the house, swayed and bounced in the wind, first bending far down one way, and then another. With every bend in our direction, it leaned hard against the house, shoving the roof edge and threatening to lift it right off the wall. The deep moaning creaks and groans were unworldly, the kind of thing that makes the hair on the back of one’s neck stand up straight.
Before that big storm of ’75 ended, a multitude of dead and decaying branches littered the roads and yards throughout Sonoma Valley, with trees uprooted everywhere. It took weeks to clean the debris.
What I still remember most about that awesome storm, was how clear and bright the sky remained. N’er a cloud throughout the long night.
Oregon logger climbs Glen Ellen fir
It wasn’t more than a month before we called Bob Anderson tree service and arranged to have that big Douglas fir removed. Bob suggested a novel approach, and we agreed to go along with it. Having worked for some years as an Oregon logger in his youth, Bob was eager to try climbing the tree to first “top it” and then take the remainder out in short sections one by one.
The day of the tree’s downing, Bob arrived with only one other worker. His sweetie, Sue, did not accompany him; she says she’s more comfortable hearing about the result rather than watching the ordeal. The entire morning, Bob and his assistant surveyed the tree, the ground below, the tight proximity to our house and the general situation. Once they were ready to work, Bob pulled on safety equipment and began his climb up the trunk as a crowd of neighbors gathered to watch.