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September 22, 2006: Blustered

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The wind woke me up at 3:30 this morning and I lay in bed for the next two and a half hours until the alarm finally went off, unable to sleep. It was so loud, so intense outside, and I kept getting up to check on things, random thumps and crashes and bumps. It was almost a relief when the alarm finally went off at 6am, because by then the sun had started to rise and I could finally look outside and see what had transpired during the night.

Today was garbage day in our part of town. Garbage cans and garbage were strewn everywhere. The cans themselves, some still full of bags of trash, had been blown into little groupings. Later in the day, I saw our next door neighbor heading off to rescue his can; he laughed and noted we'd better go fetch ours from the garbage can nest as well.

Driving to the bakery for breakfast, the streets were littered with garbage and greenery. Whole branches of huge trees were scattered here and there on lawns and sidewalks and streets. Heavy basketball hoop stands, their bottoms filled with cement, lay on their sides.

The traffic getting to work was horrible; it took me nearly twice as long as usual to get there, and I saw ambulances passing by on the highway shoulder, going both directions. I never saw an accident on the way to work, but on the way home I heard that the freeway had been temporarily blocked due to a fallen tree.

I got to work and discovered that the office had no power. My boss was already there, and we were the only two who would have been there anyway. He'd drained his laptop battery on the plane coming home last night so couldn't get anything productive done if he stayed, and without access to the company network, I couldn't do anything useful at all. So eventually we both gave up and left - him to find a coffee shop or bookstore with a wireless network and an electrical outlet, and me to go home to chart out the final draft of my pattern-in-progress and then finally, to sit down and knit. I did check my work email a few times during the day, but there was nothing in it to worry about. There were power outages at Richard's office too, although he's been working from home all week so he wasn't so lucky as me, to get the unexpected free day.

This evening, when we came home from dinner I peered outside to check on our trees, since a few had been getting dangerously buffeted by the wind and I was worried about them. Turns out it wasn't just the trees we should have been worried about. Two entire sections of fence between us and our neighbors have come down, both squarely on top of the poor little tangelo tree. I knocked on their door but no one was home, and so Richard and I heaved the fence chunks off the tree and stacked them carefully on the nearest flat, dry surface. The tangelo tree is still young enough that it is mostly just green branches, not old enough to have developed anything resembling a trunk, so I grabbed the only thing I could find that resembled a plant stake (the pole from an old bird feeder that fell apart a few years back and slammed that into the ground and then tied the tree to the pole with a plastic bag. I didn't want to use string because that would dig into the bark, so the plastic bag seemed like the only possible option for a temporary fix.

The tangelo tree wasn't the only victim of the wind and the fence. The apple tree had also fallen completely over to one side, and was smashing the pomegranate tree. After nearly five years this apple tree has finally started to produce not only flowers, but actual fruit, just this summer - fruit that we could not eat, of course, because the worms got to every single one of the tiny little apples, but it was a promising start, and now it is entirely possible that it has been damaged enough that it might die. I am frustrated by this because it is one thing to be patient and wait for several years once; it is another to face the possibility that we may very well have to go through another five years of waiting before we get any apples of our own.

We called the hardware store to see how late they were open, but there was no answer, so next I called my parents to see if maybe they might have something we could borrow to stake up the tree, and amazingly, they still had the poles that had been pounded in place to hold up their trees, which are old enough and massive enough that not even this kind of crazy wind storm can take them down. So we drove off to my parents' house, expecting to have to dig some poles out of the ground, but it turned out my dad was able to just break them off at the base, and so back we came home, to hammer two poles as far into the ground as we could, and then scrounge up a few more plastic bags to hoist the tree back upright. I am not enitrely sure that our makeshift system will hold - the tree still tilts slightly toward the pomegranate tree - but at least it is no longer lying on *top* of the pomegranate tree, and so I am crossing my fingers that this will at least keep it up through the night. Tomorrow morning we'll call the gardeners and see what they recommend, and also likely hit thehardware store to get some sturdier poles. The fence will just have to wait until the neighbors come home, so we can figure out the best way to get it fixed.

While we were out there, trying to rescue the trees, I noticed that the wind has had one good side effect. The pomegranate tree has been blown completely clean of all the spiderwebs, and I could see just how many pomegranates it actually has. I am in awe. There are more pomegranates on there than I had realized, and some of them are massive in size, and some of them are starting to darken from yellow to red. So I am crossing my fingers and hoping that despite the wind and the birds and the worms and everything else that has attacked our trees and prevented us from getting anything more than one single, solitary white peach this entire growing season, the pomegranates might just pull through and make up for all the rest. Assuming, of course, that the apple tree stays up and the rest of the fence doesn't come crashing down and put us out of fruit possibilities for the rest of the year.

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