Tuesday, January 22, 2008

another front comes roaring in

It’s 4 AM Sunday morning and the wind, up on top of the mountain, is just beginning to howl.

The roaring hasn’t yet come down to the valley but already I can feel the mountain side trembling.

That’s the truth!

A major front is on its way from the west, this one powerful enough, it feels like, to rip trees, on top of the mountain, up by their roots, and send boulders tumbling down the mountain side.

And what about those new huge houses that in recent years have been built up on top of the ridge to the east? I don’t think I would want to be up there in this wind.

We had a shareholder (they have since moved) who lived in the house that was built up on top of the next ridge as you turn in our valley and they said when a front comes in it gets so bad up there that they have to retreat to an inside room without windows or doors because even then with the house closed up tight and sealed the air fills with sand and dust and when something breaks loose, like a chair or wheelbarrow, they have been known to come crashing through a window or fly by to disappear into the valley below.

When we first moved to the farm, almost 25 years ago now, the cold fronts coming through in the night would wake me. I would hear the roar and get up from bed and look out into the night.

Back then our house was an still an aging, unkept saltbox (you should see the pictures). The sort of old house you can still see when driving through the countryside, two rooms down and two rooms up above. Easy to heat with a single woodstove and looking, I guess, like the old fashioned rectangular boxes that salt came in.

On the front of the house was a wooden porch with a roof.

And the house had weakened after a hundred years of cold fronts whipping over the mountain and roaring down the eastern slope to strike the porch and house with a powerful broadside.

The first gust from the front would cause the house to sway, Literally to shake back and forth, to cause water left in a glass on a night-stand by our bed upstairs to actually splash and spill.

Back then, that front porch (long since torn down) acted almost like a parachute. The wind would come underneath it and try to lift the house up in the air.

Sometimes, with a particularly strong front, part of the metal roof would rip off, flying off into the forest behind the house, making me fear that we were next, the next gust would take the house and all with it tumbling over the ledge and into the forest.
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The swaying of the house would make me consider waking everyone up, to grab our most valuable possessions and to run for safety.

I tonight this front seems maybe even worse than it has been for the past 25 years. The front hitting the top of the mountain. The wind roaring howling up on top of the mountain. A sound every once in a while that could be that of a tree falling. The roar increasing in intensity and finally here it comes. Down the mountain towards the house.

Definitely an experience to remember.

Fortunately, over the years we’ve worked on the house, tearing down that old porch. Reinforcing the sides. Replacing the roof. Even the old sheds that would regularly lose their roofs in a wind storm are now gone, replaced with a new barn.

My, times have changed I’ve even moved the greenhouse up on the side of the mountain where it gets some protection from the wind. Where I don’t have to look at it out the back window and wonder if this gust will be its last. It looks safe and protected up there against the mountain though, I must admit, last year we did lose one of those green temporary buildings right next to it in a windstorm.

One evening it was there. The next morning the building was gone. Only the tools and equipment that had been inside remained.

It took me the rest of the day to find the pieces of the building where they had come to land, way back in the forest.

But enough of that.

With the temperatures dropping down into the single digits its hard to imagine that in less than three months we’ll be putting seeds and seedlings in the ground.

In fact, in less than a month, we’ll be starting up the greenhouse. Spending most of February and all of March starting seeds into flats and then watering and caring for the ever growing seedlings.

Even with this cold, with the snow covering the ground the season’s about to start.

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