Monday brought the Philadelphia area another eight inches of snow, adding to the already record-breaking totals of frozen precipitation for the new year. As that storm drew to a close, giddy TV meteorologists eagerly predicted two more wintry strikes for the area — each conveniently spaced two days apart.
I hate winter. I hate everything about winter — the sub-freezing temperatures, the snow, the shoveling of the snow, the boots and heavy clothing — everything! I had had enough of winter way back in December, so the threat of two more storms in the same week wasn't exactly a thrill for me. Luckily, I take the train to work, so driving in the snow has been retired from my winter hate list.
Just as had been predicted, the darkened skies opened up and dropped several inches of ice on the lower part of Montgomery County (where I live), leaving every tree, bush, car, trash can and fence post encased in an otherworldly, shimmering glaze.
Before my alarm went off, I was awakened by the annoying sound of ice crystals ricocheting off my bedroom window. It was still dark outside, but I could see the glistening precipitation in the glow of a nearby streetlight. I showered, shaved, made some coffee and checked my email — my daily "getting ready for work" ritual. One of the emails informed me that my office would be opening late. I smiled, made myself another cup of coffee and settled in front of the television.
Suddenly, from downstairs, I heard a loud creak — followed by a louder crash.
|Watch out for that tree!|
My wife sprang from our bedroom. "What was that?," she screamed and together we descended the stairs. The living room floor was littered with shards of broken glass. The culprit was the giant, gnarled tree branch lying across the hedge that skirts my driveway, its thick shredded top protruding through the smashed window frame and into my house. We stood and stared in disbelief for several minutes before I went and got a broom and dustpan.
Once I swept up the mess, Mrs. P and I went outside to assess possible further damage. The other end of the offending branch was resting upon the hood of my wife's SUV, along with a twisted network of other branches brought down in its sixty-foot descent to our driveway. Several cable television wires were buried underneath the chaos, stretched, but still attached to the utility pole at the curb and back of my neighbor's house.
|All ready for the second little pig.|
O., my neighbor across the street, saw us milling around our porch and came over to offer assistance. O. is a general contractor, having built the aforementioned porch, in addition to completing various painting and repair jobs for us. He looked around and made a more professional assessment than I. He sprinted back to his home and returned with a chainsaw and — torrents of icy rain be damned — began reducing the branch to tiny logs and sawdust. When he finished, he measured the window frame for replacement glass and fashioned a makeshift patch out of corrugated plastic board to fill the space left by the shattered window. A friend likened good ol' O. to Jesus — possibly because of his "savior-like" aid in a dire situation, possibly because of his carpentry skills, or possibly because he is Israeli.
While O. was putting the temporary fix in place, he told us that he had been looking out of his window, coincidentally, just as the ice-covered tree branch gave out and plummeted to the ground, taking out our window on the way. He watched as Sam, our next-door neighbor, came out of his house, walked across our lawn to our front porch to observe the fallen limb. Once Sam was satisfied by what he saw, he walked back to his house and shut the door, never stopping to tell us that a giant tree branch had demolished our window and landed on our car. I guess we chose the right neighbor to befriend.
And then our cable went out. Oh, when is the first day of summer?