Rolling Storms & Tomatoes

What a week it has been here in the Niagara Region of Ontario. The heat and humidity have been unbearable with  most days this week over 100 degrees with the humidity. It’s been draining working outside and quite irritating to hear those that work indoors complaining about the heat while sitting in their air-conditioned splendor. It’s unnerving how heat and humidity can turn the gentlest of souls into cranky bizatches at the snap of the fingers, myself included. I was teetering on the verge of insanity a few times this week…it was not comforting, let me tell you.

 

 

Thankfully, the rains finally came last night helping to rid us of some of the humidity and the accompanying suffocating heat. Although it came at a price. We had rolling lines of powerful thunderstorms, severe winds, and tornado warnings. There were a few times we ran to the basement for cover when the rains pelted down so heavily that we couldn’t hear each other speaking and the winds contorted the trees like seasoned yogis. We had just sat down to dinner when the first wave of storms rolled in with huge dark clouds, whipping winds and rain that hit the windows like rocks. At one point the rain ceased between storm surges and a flock of seagulls took to the sky above our neighborhood, circling overhead like a warning.

 

 

Throughout the night my mind kept going to my garden. Hoping my tomato plants were holding up. I had noticed while closing up before the first rainfall that one of the plants had been bent by the winds, putting it in jeopardy of snapping off. A few stakes were strategically placed to try to stop the toppling of the tomato cages in hopes of preserving the easily snapped stems. Early this morning there was a clap of thunder so loud that I sat straight up in bed. What was my first thought? My tomatoes. I was thrilled that the gardens were getting a thorough watering but at what expense? I certainly wasn’t about to trek out into the storm and it was still dark outside so I couldn’t see if there was any destruction in the veggie patch.  I am definitely a gardener to the core…or perhaps just anxious for homegrown, plump and juicy tomatoes.

 

 

First thing this morning before the neighborhood started to stir, I tiptoed barefoot out to the garden with a mug of steaming coffee in my hand to check on my little lovelies. Phew! Everything had weathered the storm far better than expected. One of my Brussels sprout plants had been partially uprooted but was easily re-positioned. Two tomato plants were tipped but not broken, thankfully. One of my potato plants’ top growth was flattened by the pelting rain but all-in-all everything looked happy to have been saturated and refreshed. I took this time to get cracking at pulling weeds while the ground was soft and still have loads more weeds to pull today since they are easier to pull out of mud than dry, compacted soil.

 

Interested in what it looked like around these parts? Check out this link on The Weather Network. There is a brief video and loads of pics sent in by Ontario residents.

 

 

Today has turned out to be a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

 

 

 

 

“In all things in nature there is something of the marvelous.”  – Aristotle 

Lightning Storms Aplenty

My first day off work in seven days has finally arrived and with it came a great amount of rain.  This is turning out to be a Spring dictated by the pendulum swing of Mother Nature’s moods. The past two nights we have been treated to incredible lightning displays interspersed with loud rolling thunderclaps. Pelting rain and hail have also made an appearance. I enjoy a good thunderstorm every so often.  The intense energy of a thunderstorm is exhilarating. I have great memories of sitting outside in the breezeway with my dad and sisters watching thunderstorms as a kid. My dad instilled in us that all aspects of Nature and weather are to be respected and enjoyed. These are the memories that last a lifetime. I think this is why I love the energy of storms and rainfall so much.

 

 

 

lightening

 

 

 

Last night as I sat sipping tea with a wonderful friend in the window of Starbucks, intensely discussing our lives since we last talked. We noted periodically the flashes of lightning strikes on the other side of the glass.  I was feeling a bit edgy being so vulnerable while at the same time enthralled by Nature’s magnificence. Why is it that often we are drawn to things that can do great damage? Like storm chasers following tornadoes or those that love the thrill of cliff-diving. The chances of being struck by lightning are pretty slim but it’s still a possibility. It seems to me by my limited research that approximately 120 to 190 people per year are struck by lightning in Canada. On average about 10 people per year die from lightning strikes in Canada alone. Most of these “hits” occur in Ontario, Quebec or Saskatchewan. Yet another reason I refrain from golfing (not really, I just am a seriously terrible golfer). There are not enough trips to the clubhouse that could make me enjoy spending time on the course. One interesting tidbit is that 84% of lightning strike victims are male and sometimes while holding a metal club while in an open area. Very curious.

 

 

 

One of my early recollections of lightning striking close to home was just that; lightning striking my home. Luckily no one was in the house at the time. My mom and I had been shopping for back to school clothes if I remember correctly and we were coming out of the shopping mall on the opposite side of the city from where we lived when the thunderstorm began. The thunder was insanely loud, that I still remember. When we finally returned home we noticed bricks scattered around the yard and our chimney missing. Inside the house told  the story of how damaging lightning can be. Throughout the second story of the house the jolt of electricity left its calling card. Even down the stairwell at the opposite side of the house there was evidence remaining. I recall standing in the backyard noting how the bricks of the chimney lay while listening as the adults talked. Funny how only certain snippets of past events stay within our memory while the remaining information is suppressed or deleted.

 

 

 

From this moment, I was a lightning enthusiast. I have a healthy respect for the destructive power while being enthralled by its magnificence. Shortly after the aforementioned event I went on a warpath in the tiny school library looking for information about lightning and storms. I became hyperaware of safety protocols and still recall vividly the day on the school playground when a thunderstorm rolled in at recess and a bunch of kids ran to a lone tree in the middle of the field. I kept thinking “what a bunch of idiots! Don’t they know that is the worst place to stand?” Obviously they didn’t know and were more concerned with getting wet than being struck by lightning!

 

 

 

I have passed along my appreciation of a great thunderstorm to my kids. Some nights when the sky is filled with flashes of lightening bolts we snuggle on the living room couch and watch as Nature shows off.  Way better than squeezing in amongst other people, vying for the perfect position and swatting at mosquitos to watch a fireworks display, I’d say. Now that Spring has finally arrived and with it the likelihood of thunderstorms, I feel electrified. Pardon the pun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There are many silly superstitions about lightning, and as a result many people – maybe even you – are terrified of it. You shouldn’t worry. Thanks to modern science we now know that lightning is nothing more than huge chunks of electricity that can come out of the sky, anytime, anywhere, and kill you.”  – Dave Barry

Blanket of White

Yesterday morning as I started my day with a steamy mug of coffee, I pondered all of the things I could possibly do over the weekend. Then I cleared my mind of its swirling chaos, sunk back into the couch and watched the snow swirl and dance as it floated down to earth while I savoured my caffeine fix. The snow storm we had been promised had arrived…with a vengeance. School was cancelled due to the weather conditions so we were all moving like sloths. We had at least a foot of snow by the time I finally stepped out the front door around noon into a swirling mass of blowing snow. Each winter our front walkway becomes a wind tunnel for blowing and drifting snow since it faces North and is flanked on one side by the house and the garage on the other. In the summer it creates a nice shady, cool space to enjoy a beverage while in the winter the wind seems to lay in wait for me to open the front door to slap me in the face. Actually, truth be told, I kind of like getting an icy blast when I step out the front door. By the time I make it to my car I am acclimatized to the wind. Good morning!

Our super handy neighbour that helped me prep my garden in the Spring (see here for details) noticed me shovelling and swung his snowblower around to assist me. Sweet. I was only shovelling for a grand total of about 10 minutes! With a wave of thanks I darted back inside for a refill of hot coffee. Mmmm…

The rest of my day was spent organizing and cleaning. Some things just have to be tended to. Thursday I assembled a shelf and desk that my daughter received for Christmas. I should have known by the instructions clearly depicting an “x” over one individual and then indicating two people were needed for this task that, perhaps I should employ a helper. In typical Me fashion I went ahead thinking, “No problem. I’ve got this.” As I fought with the final screws in the shelf I realized that I should have heeded the pictorial warning.

Four hands are better than two.

Four hands are better than two.

I won’t bore you with the trivialities of the remainder of my day except to say that I delighted in the gorgeous snow drifting and blowing to the point it seemed as though it would never end. I managed to hunker down inside all day except the brief foray into shovelling. The best part of the day? Why, enjoying the fire that I started in the fireplace and reading a book as the snow continued to fall. Divine.

We have more snow now than we have had in the last few winters combined, I think. I love the fresh look of a blanket of clean snow. Interested in how much of the white stuff we were blessed with? Here is a article from a local media source.  It seems as though we have more snow in our neighbourhood than any of those pics show. I took this pic while staying cosy and warm inside. This was about an hour after the neighbour and I had totally cleared the driveway but you can’t even tell where it is anymore. As you can see from my car in the driveway I have some work to do before I can go for a spin. My Mazda wasn’t going anywhere too quickly, that’s for sure.

Snowmagedon 2013 Feb

Snowmagedon 2013 Feb

I love the pace that a big snowstorm sets. Everyone slows down a fraction. Neighbours help each other shovel. There is no intense pressure to run around all over town. We simply adopt a slower rhythm as our ancestors did before us by instinct.

” The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found.” 

– J. B. Priestley

Breaking of the Storm

The sun is finally starting to show its beautiful face again. We are getting small fleeting smiles from the sky before clouds drift in front again to continue the dismal grayness that colours today. Here in the Niagara region of southern Ontario we were very fortunate to have escaped the wrath of Sandy (A.K.A. Frankenstorm.) We had our fair share of rain, definitely, and high winds that whipped trees around as though they were licorice. I haven’t seen much in the way of damage or downed trees today while doing a few errands. I wonder if this is due to the last nasty windstorm we had in April 2011 that seemed to uproot and rid this area of weak or vulnerable trees. The region lost many trees in a day and schools were evacuated due to high winds. We even had a tree fall on our house almost directly above where I was sitting at the time. It was frightening…but I am getting off track.

Last night we were as prepared as we could have been under the circumstances. Most of the prep went unused, thankfully. The only thing used was the chilled beer and sadly, the submersible pump. The pump is still being used as I type. Nothing drastic, just a bit of water coming up through the drain in the laundry room floor from  supersaturation  of the ground due to how quickly and heavily the rain came. Nothing was damaged since the laundry room is a simple concrete floor and the water only surrounded the drain. The amount of rainfall in the time span was unusual so really, no surprise that water backed up. Thankfully it was a minute amount compared to what many others have experienced over the past few days.

This morning I took a few pictures through the windows of our house. You don’t think I was going to go stand out in the pouring rain and wind, did you? The photos, although not top-notch, give an idea of how the rain was pounding on the house. The colour of the sky is accurate and the pictures were taken mid to late morning. It felt as though it was evening it was so dark and dreary.

Sandy

Sandy/Frankenstorm

Frankenstorm

My favorite tree toughing it out.

My favorite tree toughing it out.

Driving rain on the walkway

Rain on the Front Walkway – I think I can put the garden hose away now.

Winter-ready Back Garden Being Hammered by Rain and Wind

I am very grateful that we made it through Sandy/Frankenstorm relatively unscathed as did friends and family. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those that were not as fortunate to escape the wrath of this storm.

I am sure many of you have seen some of these photos already. I included them to show the severity of this storm. See photos here: Affects of Sandy captured by others can be seen in these few photos.

This was yet another example of the power of Nature.

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”     Aristotle

Frankenstorm!

What to expect…? It really is a mystery. We are told to be prepared for emergency conditions due to high winds and heavy rain here in Southern Ontario. This link  is the most comprehensive report thus far that I have come across today.

 

FrankenStorm on its way!

 

I have checked out the National Hurricane Center, Environment Canada and Emergency Management Ontario as well as The Weather Network looking for more detail. One source says huge amounts of rain, another states not much rain but heavy winds, and yet another warns of power outages. I don’t think I will be taking any chances. Better safe than sorry and all of the other clichés. Now I’m all worked up! OK , not really.  Mother Nature will do whatever she is going to do whether I stress out or not. I think I will just do the one thing I can do that I learned as a young girl in Girl Guides…Be Prepared. That’s really all that anyone can do.

At this point the following  things have been completed:

Rechargeable batteries and flashlights are ready to be called into action.

Extra water has been filtered and set aside.

Submersible pump is standing at the ready (fingers crossed that it never gets used).

Lawn furniture has been put into the garage or tucked away in safe spots.

Firewood has been brought inside.

A warm blanket set aside and beer chilled for drinking in front of the fire. I know, red wine would be preferable but I’m not about to make another trip out anywhere.

Car fueled up  because we all know that petrol prices rise out of control for any reason imaginable.

 

 

Hopefully the approaching “FrankenStorm” will not be as serious as predicted and there will be no further damage due to hurricane Sandy. My heart goes out to all those that have been affected by this storm already.

 

At this point, the wind gusts are starting to increase and the rain is steady after being sporadic throughout the day. Stay safe and use your common sense folks.

 

 

“Weather is a great metaphor for life — sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.” ~Terri Guillemets