Category Archives: Christmas Tree

Christmas Ice Storm 2013

The area where I live was hard hit by an ice storm on December 22nd 2013. It was like nothing we have ever experienced, and honestly I hope to never see again.

Saturday December 21, 2013 was the first hint I had that there might be an issue. I was watching the weather channel and getting ready for Christmas. The weather person said, “a 1-2 degree fluctuation in temp, once the precipitation begins could be the difference between freezing rain capable of reeking havoc on the area, or merely rain that  can wash away the accumulated Christmas snow. I looked out the window. A tree in the backyard had lost a branch.

The backyard:

SAM_0440“It’s only one branch, maybe the tree was dead,” I reasoned. Most of us are happier being complacent and taking on a “wait and see” attitude when it comes to weather predictions. I mean what else can you do with news like that, right?

I slept restlessly that night and kept waking up to vague noises coming from the park behind the house. I needed sleep as Sunday was going to be a very busy shopping day. Although the Christmas presents were ready to go, well most of them anyway, there was still a lot of fresh produce, meats and fishes to  purchase for Christmas Eve/Day festivities.

I awoke Sunday morning and stretched expecting to find a few downed trees outside the house. I sat up and looked out the window. Something was VERY different. Why was I looking at grey sky when I should be seeing the branches of the 50 ft Maples splayed just outside the windows across the horizon. Disoriented I got up and went to the window.

I started to cry as I tried to comprehend what I was looking at.  Each of the tall trees lining the back yard and those beyond in the park  had shed many of their large branches and were lying on the ground. Not just one or two , but most of them. Everywhere I looked the beautiful mature trees had lost many of their branches.

The park:

SAM_0451The Backyard:

SAM_0508I have a lower roof that obstructs the view of the backyard from our bedroom window. Feeling a little disoriented, I went downstairs to get a better view. What I saw when reaching the windows brought a fresh flood of tears. The backyard and garden I write about in a gardening blog was completely devastated. Large branches, the tops of the missing skyline trees I usually see from the bedroom, were lying across the yard creating an impenetrable barrier between me and the garden. Thankfully the house was spared from damage.

The Backyard:

SAM_0470“Oh no,” I thought. “What about the old maple tree on the front lawn?” I opened the door and peeked outside, not really interested in seeing a branch laying across the car in the driveway.
I experienced a moment of relief. Although caked in an inch of ice, the maple was intact. Its branches hung precariously under the weight of ice but were still attached to the main trunk.

The Front yard:

SAM_0529 We started calling around and checking on the kids and friends/family to ensure everyone was o.k. My daughter along with our granddaughter came over and we spent the day together as my husband went out with the rest of the guys to help with the removal of trees from roads and driveways. Honestly I was quite upset at the sight of the storms devastation and so happy to have them there with me. They are wonderful girls and I want to say thanks and “I love you and guys!”.

We had coffee and watched the news. Hundreds of thousands of people across the area were without power. No serious injuries or fatalities had been reported. I said a prayer for all to stay safe.

While we tried to carry on with some degree of normal routine it was impossible. Branches were crashing down outside, bouncing off roofs and hitting fences. With each thud, I jumped out of my skin. If I never hear that noise again it will be a blessing. It begins with a crackling of ice as the branch starts to give way under the weight, turns into the harsh sound of wood tearing as the branch separates from the tree. Next the sound of ice chunks falling and hitting the frozen snow, and finally ends with a sound I can only describe as similar to a traffic accident.

The Park:

SAM_0500 Each thud made my heart sink. I wished I could stop it, and knew that wasn’t possible. For a few hours the branches were breaking off every few minutes, and we just watched helpless to do anything about it. I was terrified one of the branches still clinging to the tops of tall trees in the backyard would come down on the house or car.

After a coffee we dressed and ventured out to see how neighbors were doing. We kept to the middle of the street avoiding trees full of ice on front lawns. I was amazed how much debris had barely missed several cars.

The Street:

SAM_0455SAM_0460People were outside shoveling and trying to clean up the mess. Everyone we spoke with was safe and had amazing stories to share about the storm.

Sadly we heard on the news the next day of several fatalities related to improper use of BBQ and generators during the storm. A result of those without power doing their best to keep warm. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost loved ones due to the storm, or its aftermath during this holiday season ice storm.

We Canadians are for the most part a hearty bunch able to withstand and recover from Mother Nature’s quirky whims and furious temper tantrums.

The following day my husband told me to look out the window. I really didn’t want to see the devastation again. He coaxed me over to take a peek. What I saw was a beautiful, stunning and blinding sight. The sun had finally come out and its rays were hitting the ice covered trees turning it into something beyond a scene on a Christmas card or anything technology can mimic or cameras can accurately capture. It was absolutely glorious. Each and every branch covered in twinkling diamonds of ice. It was so brilliant we had to shield our eyes in order to see it.

The Backyard & Park:

SAM_0539There is beauty in everything, or so they say. The beauty of our Christmas Ice Storm 2013 is in the way community came together and supported each other and the stunning view the storm left behind in its wake.

After loosing December 22nd to the Christmas Ice Storm, we were still able to pull off our Christmas Eve/Day celebrations. We lost Sunday which created extra work, however Christmas arrived, storm or no storm just as it always does!

I want to wish friends, family, fellow bloggers/readers and all who stumble upon this blog a wonderful and safe holiday season and only the best this coming year has to offer.

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The Christmas Tree

We’ve had the same Christmas tree for 20 years. It is a highly valued family possession. Standing a humble 6 1/2 feet tall with branches of bright green the color reminds me of a child’s finger paints. Yet the shade sets off the delicate ornaments hanging from its bows beautifully. The tree is lush and full which makes up for its lack of height. It reminds me of trees we used to see when driving north to Santa’s Village with the kids. As long as you avoid touching the limbs, which are paper thin, it passes as real.

The tree is always covered in tiny white lights, save one lower bow reserved for a string of multicolored bulbs. The colorful strand pulsates to the sound of tradition Christmas songs coming from a box near the plug in a gentle music box style. The smell of pine wafts from the tree, an artificial aroma created by air fresheners hung from branches. Legend has it cats are repelled by the spicy scent. Both of our furry family members seem to enjoy the aroma as they climb the tree, lounge on their favorite branches and bat at the air fresheners. Thankfully the tree is heavy which makes it impossible for the little felines to knock over.

So what makes this tree so precious to us? It is the ornaments. Each one carefully chosen over the years to reflect the stages of life or the story we lived in any given year. Everything from our first Christmas together as a married couple, to baby milestones,  items the kids made in elementary school, to handmade ornaments created during leaner years. More recently a hand crafted beaded felt heart all the way from SA. This item was created by a group of women in South Africa who sell the items to help support their families. A friend who visited the town gave it to me as a gift last year.

At Christmas time these ornaments displayed amidst a backdrop of bright green and under tiny twinkling lights is a beautiful reminder of all we have lived and shared together and it is our story.

As the grandchildren have started to arrive, and just as I envisioned 20 some years ago; we make a warm cup of hot chocolate sit back and share stories associated with each ornament.

In our home this is so much more than a Christmas tree. This is a story tree.