I know very few of the thousands Sandy obliterated. Most I know responded this way, “We lost a few trees, no power for a week, but other than that, we were lucky.” That was pretty much our story—at least in Connecticut. Our home in Pennsylvania took a little bigger hit.
When Sandy slammed the coast on Monday night we were in Connecticut, worrying alongside our many friends who lived near the water. Because Sandy didn’t hit at high tide as predicted, several returned home relieved to find the sandbags had held. Others weren’t so lucky. One family had just completed repairs from Irene the week before. The irony was cruel.
We were so focused on our Connecticut community that we didn’t think much about our home in Pennsylvania. After all we weren’t near the water, and the area seemed to be out of the direct path. But the next afternoon we got a call from our neighbor, Lisa, who blurted out in a rather high-pitched voice, “Don’t be alarmed, but you’ve lost some trees. Four have fallen onto your driveway.” Don’t worry, she reiterated, “We’ve got everything under control here.”
Her call put me a little on edge, but I thought, “We lost four trees in Connecticut. What’s four more in Pennsylvania?” On Thursday afternoon, knowing we were without power in PA, we packed up our icy food coolers and headed south, prepared to deal with the four fallen trees.
But when we made the hard right turn down our little lane, our mouths fell agape. It looked like King Kong had cut through our property. Like downed pins in a bowling alley, tree after tree was toppled over. The “four trees” were just the ones blocking our driveway. As we walked the property in a daze we counted them—twenty-six in all. We were sick. We knew how much cutting up and carting off this many trees would cost. We almost got in the car and headed back to Connecticut.
But we didn’t. It was getting dark, and we had no power, so we headed to our local pub. The place was hopping, but we found a couple of stools at the bar, and we began to tell the owner-cum-bartender our woes. He said, “Stay put. Charlie will walk through that door in about twenty minutes. He can help.” Right on cue, a bearded guy who looked like ZZ Top walked in. We sent a beer his way, and then he headed towards us. We told the same story he had heard from so many others. He agreed to help. He’d be there tomorrow at ten.
And he was. Within a few hours his five-member crew had neatly cleared the four trees blocking our drive. This small act lifted our spirits. Later that day we got the big gift. Our neighbor had called a local lumberyard who’d advertised haul-away services in exchange for trees.
We called, they came, and it was a quick deal. Our trees were good—tall, straight mature oaks, maples, and hickories. They’d take them, but we’d have to wait until the ground was frozen. Christmas maybe?
Throughout November we watched as the brilliantly colored leaves on those fallen trees turned a monotonous brown. In December we witnessed the trees begrudgingly shed their lifeless, brittle leaves. As we turned down the lane each visit, it was like driving through a mass above-ground cemetery. Would these trees ever get their second life as lumber?
Finally last Thursday we got the call. They were coming for the trees the next day. A trio of characters arrived. Two were young and Amish, one dark-haired with the classic mustache-less beard, the other blond with a bowl-style cut. Their driver was old and almost toothless with two prosthetic legs. With the aid of a winch attached to a massive bulldozer, they got the bulk of the trees out in one day.
David and I didn’t know how much these trees had been weighing on us until we got up this morning to land that was nearly cleared. We felt lighter, giddy almost. It was cold, but we craved some fresh air and headed out for short run.
As I do most mornings I start thinking about the day’s meals on our run. “What are you in the mood for?” I asked . “Nothing heavy,” he said. “Bubbles and sushi maybe?” That sounded good to me too. The mourning was over.” Time to celebrate!