Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quite A Storm Last Night!

It was a typical summertime thunderstorm: lightning, high winds, reports of hail.  At the worst of the storm, over 100,000 customers were without power.  As soon as it was over, we all went outside to inspect the damage, particularly to our trees.  My family was lucky -- all our trees were just fine.  Others were not so fortunate.  Trees were pushed over by the wind, sheared off at the top, and split down the middle. 

Pecan in ill health before the storm.

I noticed that all the neighbors seemed to know which trees were likely to be damaged in such a storm.  People knew what to look for, even if they didn't know the technical terms.  Leaning trees, rotting trees, trees with uneven canopies.

Didn't fall this time.
It's hard to remove a tree, especially a large one.  We come to regard them as members of the family.  And removing any tree can be expensive.  But sometimes, the tree really must go.  Not removing a problem tree can certainly cause problems later on!

Needs to come down pronto!
This tree didn't fall only because it is leaning on a neighboring tree.  Soil mounding like this indicates a problem with the root system.  This tree also had twig dieback, dead wood in the crown, and fewer leaves than you'd expect in mid-summer.

This tree is in jeopardy too.  Notice the roots exposed on the right side of the tree?  And how drastically it's leaning?  Luckily for the homeowner, it's leaning away from the house.

Split hackberry
Weak-wooded or fast-growing trees can sometimes fail without warning.  I don't know that there was much this homeowner could have done about this tree.

Sick old pecan

But the tree above had been failing for years.  It's an old pecan that had lost most of its major limbs.  The only green leaves on this tree can from water sprouts.  Earlier in the summer, the homeowner had a tree specialist remove much of the dead  wood.  For some reason, the tree trunk itself was preserved.  It was essentially a very tall pole, more than 40 feet tall.  A tree that had such obvious problems above the ground certainly has problems below ground, too.  You can see how the roots just failed in the storm.  And this was without a true crown or canopy to catch the wind.


When we first bought our house, there was a fat old ash tree in the front yard.  It had an interesting shape and it did provide shade, but it was rotten to the core.  It was only being supported by the cambium layer, and an incomplete layer at that.  An accident waiting to happen!

On a side note:  I was astonished at how quickly my neighbors got out there and cleaned up their tree debris.  Even though the power did not return here until late, most of the tree limbs were neatly stacked on the curb this morning for the garbage collection.  Wow!


  1. Wow, that must have been quite a storm! I was tracking it on radar and hoping like heck that the rain would make it here. Only a few drops spattered the pavement, though. I feel like there's some kind of invisible forcefield over my corner of Katy!

  2. Ooh er! We will be keeping a cautious eye on our two old ash trees. But we haven't had that sort of wind here - since the month after we moved to Porterville four years ago. Half the trees in town came down.

  3. Cindy, I hope you got some of that rain this evening. They say Wednesday and Thursday will be drier...

    Thanks for your comment, Elephant's Eye! I would hate for a tree to fall on your beautiful garden. Cheers!