Sunday, July 3, 2011

A close call

That was some storm last Friday.  Storms like that can feel especially powerful when you are outside in the forest when they hit.

We are lucky to have our friend Anne Nichols working with us this summer. She has a positive attitude and a love of life which makes it pleasurable to be around her. She loves animals and is an accomplished dog trainer. She has four (yes, four!) Bernese Mountain Dogs, who all live with her. Anne was outside for the storm.

Each evening she takes the dogs out to the Athletic Field and exercises them in relative cool after the sun has gone closer to the horizon. On Friday the weather had been very hot and humid all day. We had been sweating as a we worked in slow motion, the dust clinging to us and making us both dirty and sweaty. I cleaned myself up and headed to Stillwater with Jen. And by 7 pm Anne had cooled off herself and was out exercising the dogs on the A-field, as usual. She was able to watch the clouds come in from that storm that the extreme heat had kicked up. They were moving fast and it was like a massive concave wall moving across the sky. It was beautiful. From the Homestead you really get to see the whole sky. Anne had the realization that she wanted to run back and get her camera.

She got back to the Farmstead, got her camera and headed back for the Homestead and as she did, the wind burst that was the leading edge of the storm started to hit. Until then, the air had been still. Anne looked up at the sky and decided not to take any pictures and instead head back to the Farmstead so she all of her animals and Pippa and Pearl and our cats could all be brought down to the basement if the need was there. And it looked to her like it might really come to that.

As she was running back with her dogs, the wind started to come on very strong and all of the trees around her were flailing in gale force winds. The dogs were scared and she was scared. Just then, her cat Iris was yowling for her from behind her. Anne stopped to try to locate Iris, but she could not. Finally she made the decision to forge ahead with the dogs to safety.. At that exact moment, Anne heard a terrible cracking sound in the forest ahead of her. She stopped, and not thirty feet ahead of her on the trail to the bunkhouse a massive Ash tree was coming down fast and hard, falling away from where she stood. The crash was deafening and the impact severe.

That was the only the tree that we have seen that went down in the storm. These were not straight line winds that knock a whole swath nor was there a tornado to twist everything to pieces. It was just the one tree. It just happened to be on her path. Anne realized that had her cat not yowled at her, she would have been right under the tree when it came down. Yikes!  

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