Monday, January 14, 2008

Heavy and Wet

It's snowing outside, and the kids are home from school.

It's heavy, wet snow, and it's making me nervous. One birch tree - albeit an unhealthy one - already has snapped in half with the weight of the snow.

When we had the yard cleared a couple of years ago, I lobbied hard to save three birch trees. From the road, this trio of trees made a nice visual ending point to the width of the house. I loved them because they were graceful and delicate. When we moved into the house, we had found them hidden amid scrub white pines and cleared space for them so they could have more sun. They were growing taller by the year, and I hoped would get really strong as years passed.

Last spring we noticed that one of them had died. There were no leaves on the branches last summer, no new twig growth. We considered pulling it down immediately, but I wasn't ready to break up the trio.

The middle of the birch trees was healthy and leafing well. It kind of made up for the scraggly dead one.

The third one was struggling. It leafed, but only just. It wasn't as vigorous as the middle tree nor as bare as the first tree.

It was this third struggling birch that snapped this morning, making a loud crash on the roof of the study before landing in the hydrangeas. I went out to investigate the state of the roof and pull the pieces of tree out onto the lawn. I noticed then that the healthy birch was bending severely, some branches almost touching the ground. I tried shaking snow off the tree with little effect. We may lose it before the storm is over.

Of course, the dead first birch tree is standing up straight and tall. With so few branches and twigs to hold snow, there isn't much snow on it to push it down.

I looked around the yard and there are other trees in danger of losing a branch or two. There are lilacs already bent to the ground, but they do that most storms and should mostly bounce back. The rhododendrons and azaleas look fine, as do the hydrangeas and red-twig dogwood. I decided there wasn't much I could do and came back inside.

The weather maps said we would get anywhere from one to eight inches here. I'd say we have three right now, and it's still snowing hard. It would be more if it weren't so wet.

Now I sit in the study, listening. I hear thuds of snow from higher branches fall onto the roof. Even though I know what it is, I don't like it. I anticipate sounds of branches falling and stop typing with each thud to discern if the thud is followed by a scraping sound.

Shoot, there was a thud and a scrape just now. Time for more investigating.

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