Sunday, November 6, 2011

After the Storm


We survived Snotober. That was the stupidest name I heard for the Great Snowy Nor'easter of October 29, 2011, so I love it. As I write this a week later, some places in New Jersey still don't have power back. By some miracle our house lost power for only three hours, on Saturday afternoon. But parts of town were out well into Tuesday.

Our neighbor had a tree fall on the electric line to their house, and that one-house restore job was not done until 6:15 Friday night. It's too bad that after six and and a half days without power, the PSEG truck with the flashing light was out front of their house for only ten minutes taking care of it. But then, the crew have had a lot of practice by now.

On Saturday I ran to Millburn and went up the switchback trail on the mountain. Crest Drive— ironically not a drive any more but a paved walk and bike road along the top of the ridge— is full of downed trees. It's just a one-mile dead end into the park, with no power lines and no houses or other buildings, so it's going to be among the last roads cleared.

The tree damage was not so much from wind but from the weight of the wet "white mud" snow on still-leafy branches. It's amazing how far branches can bend without breaking. And then they bend back up when the snow falls off. But there is a limit. Around the neighborhood the damage is mostly tree branches, but up there it was whole trees, and some big ones.

Remember, it's not January, it's this season:

The squirrels tried one of the gourds, but it turned out to be not a pumpkin, so they let it go.

Sign of the times, below. Most houses in town have a pile of branches out front, which, rumor has it, will be picked up some day by the town. This is the neighbors' pile. Most of this is the tree that took out their electric power.

That's our driveway, bottom left. It's a little tricky backing out with this thing piled as high as the car, but we can manage it. Considering this is the worst we have to deal with, we'll call ourselves lucky and shut up.

I walked around the property to see how the outside plants dealt with the snowfall.

I had not noticed these delicate looking flowers before.

Hardy Cyclamen is a bulb plant that blooms in the autumn. Helen told me she planted it a few years ago. I'm not sure I can see any of the cyclamen's own leaves in there. It's got some autumn sun on it. I don't know what insects are active now to visit the flowers. But we had some buzzing around the week before the snow came.

Most of the asters have gone to seed by now, but I found a few still in flower in sheltered areas in back of the house.

You wouldn't look at this and think it snowed seven days earlier.

Globe Amaranth is an annual. We have a group grown Helen grew from seed in a planter. It's said to be tropical but it came through the snow and the recent frosty nights very well. The leaves are still green and it's raising its flowers to the sun.

Well, all right, I tipped the planter a little to get a good shot of the flower. It's actually holding them out sideways. I just wanted to say it was raising its flowers to the sun. It was, for a minute there.

This is either Pale Smartweed or Lady's Thumb, two closely related wildflowers, and probably the former. You can call it a weed, if you object to plants you didn't put there yourself. We find it here and there around the garden. It's small. I don't know why one would object.

Speaking of weeds, here are some more asters in flower, on top of dying hostas. This is in a little corner hemmed on three sides by the house and a fence.

Feverfew continues to stake out its position in a crack of soil between the house and the driveway. This is not the same plant that survived last winter. That one recently went to seed and dried up. This new group is two feet away. It's a medicinal herb introduced from Europe, now growing wild. Supposedly it requires full sun, but the only place it volunteers on our property is here on the northeast side of the house where it gets no more than a few rays of sun early in the morning. It stays green all winter and looks like it's thriving.

Thanks to Helen for naming the plants!


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