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Slice of Life - Freak storms get freakier

Our summer was bookended by a pair of freak storms. A late snowstorm on the May long weekend settled on branches of freshly opened leaves creating an unseasonal weight that brought thousands of trees to their knees.


Our summer was bookended by a pair of freak storms. A late snowstorm on the May long weekend settled on branches of freshly opened leaves creating an unseasonal weight that brought thousands of trees to their knees. On their way to the ground they pulled down power lines leaving hundreds of residents clutching their garden seeds and sitting in the dark. We were among the lucky ones. We got through the three days of snow with only the briefest of power outages.

However, after the snow melted, the sky cleared and the power was restored, I was out happily seeding my garden when a giant poplar by our house suddenly snapped in half and draped itself across our power line. There wasn't even a breeze to explain it. I guess the snow had weakened the tree and it had just taken time for the fatal fractures to kick in. The good news was that the hydro crews had caught up on the fallout from the storm and so they arrived soon after with chainsaw in hand leaving us with some scattered offerings for next winter's fuel supply.
Then on the Thanksgiving weekend a wild windstorm howled its way through, tossing down trees and leaving hundreds without power once again.

Two freak storms on two long weekends. What are the odds? This time we were a mixed bag on the lucky scale. The lucky part was that we had our family Thanksgiving on Sunday instead of Monday so when the power went out at 9 pm Sunday night the turkey was done, the dishes washed and the leftovers stuffed in the fridge. We lit candles, handed out flashlights and finished our card game in the dark.

The unlucky part was that our power was still off the next day. On the other hand, no power meant no television and no computers which meant more family time. And after a summer of babbling about a 100 metre Thanksgiving and simpler times perhaps it was fitting to spend the day the same way my grandparents would have. We packed water into the house from rain barrels, gathered around the woodstove and for entertainment got out some board games - or as we like to call them "bored" games.

In the afternoon the sun came out and the wind died down and Darcy and the boys went outside. One of our sons found his old set of small throwing knives and soon they had set up some blocks of firewood for targets. When I went out to throw some scraps to the chickens they were throwing hunting knives; Darcy and the boys, not the chickens. The next time I checked they were throwing axes. When the gunfire started I stopped checking.

As dusk fell we hauled in a night's worth of water and wood, lit candles and set about heating up Thanksgiving leftovers on the woodstove. No one came out and said it, but the novelty was wearing off. Worse, there was a hockey game due to start in 20 minutes.

And then there was light! Appliances beeped, the answering machine chattered and the lights from last night winked on all over the house.

There was a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Both of our sons coming home for a visit, having our family supper the day before the power went out, having a day without power to spend together and, in the end, having the electricity come back on.

A week later the windstorm had long since blown over, the boys had gone and calm weather had returned. Once again, just like after May long weekend, a tree fell down for no apparent reason, this time draping itself across the road that runs by our house. Then another dropped beside it. A neighbour going by in his tractor pushed them into the ditch. A few days later another tree fell in the very same spot. This time Darcy, arriving home in the dark, went down with his chainsaw and removed it from the road.

The next day I walked down in the daylight for a closer look. Tell tale chew marks on stumps surrounded by piles of shavings and drag marks leading to a beaver dam on the nearby creek solved the mystery of the tumbling trees.

Spring snow storms, fall winds and now beavers - if it's not what dam thing it's another.

Shannon McKinnon is a Canadian humour columnist. You can read past columns by visiting www.shannonmckinnon.com