It isn’t often (thank God!) that a tree breaks in for breakfast. Well, he didn’t eat any eggs and bacon or a bite of cereal. And he didn’t quite sit down at our table. But he did try his best to join us for our second cup of coffee Monday morning.
It was a quiet sunny July morning. We were making plans for our day which included some normal kind of yard work for Charles and his gardener, Ulysses, and a lot of laundry for me since we’d enjoyed having five great grands sleeping over for the weekend. Just as Charles reached for the Bible to read our daily devotion a terrible cracking, swishing thunderous sound jerked us both to our feet and away from the window.
With a shower and shudder of falling leaves and limbs the giant oak in front of our house settled on our carport roof, one big elbow on the main roof of the house, branches brushing dining room, breakfast room, and carport windows. We ran out to look and there he was, our largest tree, our giant red oak, roots still flipping wet earth into the ivy.
The smell of fresh oak pervaded the yard. Birds flew in and out of the new forest come down. Stray branches slid off the roof. My heart thudded in surprise and amazement. We looked at each other and could hardly make words come out.
We started taking pictures and sending messages to family and friends. Charles called Joe Porter of Nationwide who very soon came to look and set our claim in motion. After a call, Danny Thomas from Thomas Tree Service also came. He shook his head and said, “Doc, it’s going to take the big crane. Get ready for those big ruts you hate so much. And I don’t know when I can come. We’re trying to get Reno and Whigham out from under the rubble right now. One family has a tree in their living room.”
We are almost giddy we are so thankful the tree didn’t cause worse damage, didn’t hurt anyone, and fell while we are here to see about it. A very large limb landed neatly beside the air conditioner, maybe a foot away. The tree largely hit the carport, not the main roof, and, because of the solidity of our house, the tree didn’t fall through and crush our car. Ulysses, moments before the fall, was picking up debris in the path of the tree but had moved on before it fell. Our great grands had all gone home and weren’t playing around the concrete seat at the base of the tree or filling the bird bath that sat directly in the tree’s path. In fact, the bench and bird bath weren’t even cracked nor any windows broken.
It remains to be seen how much damage our house did sustain. The roof has been compromised, of course, gutters and down spouts ripped off, tiles torn and dislodged, and much more we can’t yet see. In one place a limb has jabbed a hole in the carport ceiling which then cracked like an egg. There’s a large hole in the edge of the overhang and more will show when the tree comes off. But it could be so much worse.
We’ve stood around the fallen giant and speculated about its untimely–or timely–fall. We thought this was a healthy oak. Sure, it leaned some but probably had for 75 years. It appeared healthy and strong otherwise. But now we can see signs of deterioration inside.
Why did the oak fall when it did? We had a bad storm Saturday night. Why didn’t it fall then? Danny says that while he was driving that morning towards Reno to work on fallen trees he said to an employee, “We’ll have more tree calls. Some get unsettled in a storm and don’t fall for a day or two.” His phone rang just then and it was Charles calling about our oak. If we’d been listening to the oak Sunday afternoon we might have heard occasional mysterious creaks and groans as it slowly got ready for the big downfall.
I just say–that oak wanted to join us for breakfast! Maybe he wanted drive-through service.