Monday, September 20, 2010

He Came, He Crushed, We Conquered

So I am back from the abyss of Hurricane Igor. We lost power, but had fun playing cards, fiddling with flash lights and playing at camping in our own home. Last night, as the winds strengthened, the kids were both scared and excited, but finally settled and fell deeply asleep as is so easy when the pressure is so low.The worst of the storm was intense from about midnight until about 2 or 3, when it spun round from east to west and started thwacking our bedroom as we tried to sleep. Even from under my pillow, I could hear the howling outside the closed and shuttered windows, and a few times, the house actually shook, which considering it is not made or straw or wood, but of brick, that is pretty unexpected. The storm had already weakened to a Cat 1 storm when it made landfall, so the weakest strength on the hurricane scale.

This morning, although it was still really stormy outside, we could tell that it was no worse that a winter storm, so we went outside on the east side which is where the majority of the storm had hit yesterday. We went onto the terrace and although everything was scorched and there was debris everywhere, we had fared really well and not only no garden damage, but all Ben's hours of preparation had paid off in avoiding the house from flooding too.

We came back into the darkened shuttered part of the house to our bedroom and Ben opened the shutters on the south side of the house. Our bedroom is the top left two windows. This was the house before the storm hit, all shuttered up and ready for anything.

You may have seen my post about our beloved table a few days ago. If you didn't, read that first. Either way,  this was the sweet shady view out our window of our grotto the last time I looked, before my tummy bug, before the storm. Heaven.

And this morning, as I gazed out the window, this is what I saw. I have to say, even as I write, I am reeling.

It was hard to see at first what it was - what had happened. But then I saw the big space where two huge casurina trees had been growing out of the top of the quarried grotto, making it a shady little haven.

And then I deciphered the loquat tree, with its moss and fairy lights, in amongst the fluffy pine needles of the other trees. I couldn't see how bad things were - maybe it would be okay - it was hard to tell from looking down on the scene. I knew we had lost a lot of branches, but I still had hope.

I ran out the closest door and last time I had tried to go down these steps, it looked like this.

But today, there was no way down the steps.

And I looked over the edge, and this is what was where I used to see my table, dappled with light under the swaying moss.

I ran to the kitchen doors and Ben unshuttered those.The tree was right there.

All I kept thinking was how lucky we were. If it had fallen perpendicular to the house, it would have smashed our bedroom windows. If it had been a few feet taller, it would have hit the kids window. But the angle it fell, it just brushed the side of the house, and even missed our front door.

 I slowly walked over to the site - it was not looking good.

My beloved twinkle star tree was squashed under the 2 massive casurinas, with a Mexican Pepper on top for good measure. The table was broken, but not badly, and certainly fixable with a bit of wood glue and some clamps. Thank goodness Ben had turned it upside down or that would be firewood now too.

But the twinkle star tree was down - very down - not just some branches, but all of it lying low to the ground... too low to ever get back up. The trunk of the would not be able to be patched back up. The breaks were too severe, in too many places, and I don't think such a think as tree glue exists, but please let me know if I am wrong!

I crawled under the mass of felled trees towards some light and found this - the whole top soil had come off with the roots of the casurinas and brought down some of the quarried wall with it.

I climbed up the wall of the grotto only to discover this - bedrock - the trees had broken the rock up as they had grown and only survived with a shallow root system right on the top but with the combination of the torrential rains and hours of hammering winds, it had weakened its hold. So the moment the wind swing round from the east to the west, the pressure was just too much and the trees made a clear break and the trees fell away, taking all the soil with it.

Cairo decided to take his revenge on the trees bit by bit and spent the afternoon tearing to pieces mini casurina branches. He felt my pain and wanted to somehow make it all ok. Love him!

Oslo, being the eternal optimist, found a game in all of it, whether it was harvesting bark to make rope, or collecting debris to make a rope ladder, he was fully occupied in a positive way the whole day.

As for me, of course I am still mourning the loss of my beloved twinkle star tree. But as I said before, I am blatantly aware of how blessed I am. Not only have we enjoyed so many good times beneath it in the few short months we have been here, from daily life with our family, to dinners with close friends, but more importantly, our home, and indeed ourselves, were totally unharmed. We have so much to be thankful for. I only hope that we can create something as beautiful and as imaginative out of the remains as Oslo was able to do. But even if we don't, I know that what was always the most special was not the twinkle tree itself, with its dreamy moss, fairy lights and romantic chandeliers, but what was happening underneath it. Thank you Igor for sparing us and reminding us of what is always the most important. xx


  1. Beautiful Sasha! Thanks for sharing your experience in such a beautiful way :) xo

  2. so so beautiful and poetic xx

  3. Good to read that you're safe and unharmed! With your photo's and words as always a wonderful story.
    Greetings from Arnhem, The Netherlands


I'd love it if you left me a note!