New Year and Boom! 1/7/22

Posted by Mandy + Steve O'Shea on


We had an exciting morning this Monday!  You Georgians probably had a few sleepless hours and know what we are talking about.  The winds were incredibly and unexpectedly high and there were all sorts of thunderous sounds jolting us upright in our beds, despite the lack of lightning.

   A huge BOOM awakened us at one point and it was different than our normal booms…  random shotgun fire in the night, train car linkage cracking as the slack is pulled out of 100 stopped cars, thunder itself, explosions at nearby rock quarries.  These are all pretty normal to us, but none of it jived with what we heard.  Too dangerous, dark and cold to go outside, we scooted our heads away from the window a bit and tried to slip back into sleep.  The sounds of our tunnels being battered about by the winds made sleep hard though.  We realized the ends of the tunnels were open, leaving the flowers exposed to winds and also leaving the tunnels exposed to acting as parachutes and being ripped apart by the winds. The idea of tunnel collapse and flower destruction is hard to sleep through.  So, we threw on jackets and headlamps and went out into the treacherous night to quickly close things down and stave off damage as best we could.

   Safely back in bed, I managed to drift off with the help of earplugs, while Mandy, whose always actively monitoring the night for animal sounds, largely stayed in a state of alert and alarm. 

   BOOM!  Startled awake again, Mandy and I ask each other what the hell that was.  Each as ignorant to the answer as the other.  I drift off again.

   BOOM!  This time with a fireworks display.  The transformer outside our bedroom window exploded into sparks and definitely caught our attention.  We knew all too well what that meant.  It's the same Transformer that blew when I had my hand on the metal gate during that nasty ice storm in 2016.  We both saw it exploding back then as I got electrocuted by a 7,200 volt power line.  Luckier than most, the ice provided some insulation and I escaped with my life intact and some 3rd degree electrical burns that have since healed nicely.

   This time we knew it meant another tree slashed the power lines in half, but everyone was safe. We also knew it would create a threat to our flowers though and those thoughts permeated our broken sleep.

   With a Frost coming that next night and all of our greenhouse heaters relying on electricity, we were at serious risk of losing all of our spring flowers (75% of our annual revenue) if power couldn’t be re-established the next day.

   As day broke, we did quick damage assessment and saw where the power line was laying and made sure to stay clear of it.  I went about trying to put together a gas heater and a massive generator that we had previously bought for situations like this, but never used.  They both required parts from the hardware store in order to be set up correctly, so off I went.

   Except I couldn’t leave.  After cranking up the old truck, I drove down the drive and was blocked by a 40 foot cypress that had fallen across the drive.  No way around.  So…..one BOOM identified.

   We grabbed some tow straps, the chainsaw, and a tractor and worked at bucking it up and clearing the drive for the next 45 minutes.  As we got a good way through, Mandy started dragging the branches down to the burn pile in the woods and saw it.  The last unexplained BOOM.

    Our adorable little cabin, affectionally known as The 4th Porch, Church, and Camp David (named after the man who built it) had been sliced in half by a 70 foot pine. 

    For the first 3 years of the farm, we worked 7 days a week, every waking hour.  We never got down to the cabin unless family was visiting and we wanted to take them “out” for an evening cocktail.

    For the last 7 years though, the cabin has been our sanctuary.  The only place we had time to get “away” to.  Saturday evenings delirious with market exhaustion found us laughing over a drink with our next door neighbors, listening to old records and seeing who would fall asleep first. Sunday mornings frequently found Mandy, on the porch, under a blanket, drinking tea and listening to records and watching the woods progress through the seasons.   The occasional evening when completely overwhelmed by farm life, we could escape to the cabin…..away from the sight of 1000 never-ending projects, and just soak in the stillness of the place.

 

 If it was just the roof, I could repair it, but this thing went through the roof, the walls, and the floor.  There’s no base left to build up from.  It also demolished my most cherished keepsakes from my family.  

    My grandfather was often compared to Cary Grant.  A big, charming, handsome, and incredibly sweet man, who loved dancing with my grandmother, he used to serve us Shirley Temples at his little bar when we were kids, while he sipped a scotch.  Something about how the grenadine swirled pink into the 7up fascinated us (It was the early 80’s, so it was easier to fascinate a kid). Magical 80’s grenadine aside, the real magic was just being around him. He was a warm and loving person who was always quick with a laugh, never had a harsh word for anyone, and made everyone around him feel at ease in his presence. 

   He passed away the year we started the farm and eventually we inherited that little bar and moved it into the cabin.  It served as a frequent reminder of our connection each time I’d go down there.  Sadly the tree went right through it.   My grandparents record player embedded in a beautiful piece of furniture, and my parents record player that we used at every cocktail party that cabin ever hosted…all were smashed to dust.  Mandy’s grandmother’s table is cracked and battered, but her dad is gonna try and repair it and I think he can do it.  Our favorite favorite records are smashed under the tree, but about 100 other old and rare records were spared.  So were a few bottles of booze.  One bottle of gin is upright, full, and perfectly pinned between the tree and what’s left of the floor.  When we finally get it free, I might have to open that bottle.

    So, we quickly went from shock and sadness to acceptance, cleaning, and planning.  We fortunately had insurance, so we will have the funds to rebuild eventually.

We met with a nice tree guy today and have scheduled to get the huge tree bucked up and removed.  We are rethinking what exactly to build, but that’s neither here nor there.

   Ultimately, everyone is fine, so we are good.  Sentimental attachments are great if they bring positive feelings, but as you all know, the ability to let something go is critically important for mental health, so we are just focusing on being grateful for what it all was to us and for how to make the best of it going forward.  We truly appreciate the outpouring of sympathy and offers to help via social media.  It’s all good though.  Ultimately it just reminds us of how fortunate we are in so many ways that this is our current “tragedy.”

   So, hopefully y’all survived the storm and are all healthy and aiming towards happy out there.

Be well and be kind.