Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Storm, an Old Willow, and a Squirrel

A strong thunderstorm went over Sauk Centre - and quite a few other parts of central Minnesota - this evening.

Right now, about ten minutes before 10:00 p.m. CDT, the line of storms that our bit of excitement was part of seems to be mostly in southern Minnesota and Wisconsin: and still going strong.

It looks like our part of the world fared pretty well. The St. Cloud Times' headline is a good summary: "Heavy storm leaves mostly minor damage in Central Minnesota." (Mark Sommerhauser, TaLeiza Calloway, St. Cloud Times (July 27, 2010)) According to the article we had around 60 mile an hour wind gusts. Over in Morrison County, ligntning blew a smallish hole in the side of one family's home, and damaged another family's phone box. The folks with the perforated house were in the basement at time time, and weren't hurt.

When we looked out the east door, after the storm had moved on, we had a much better view of the sky than we'd had before. The top and north side of the old willow tree in our back yard wasn't there.

The old willow looked a lot shorter than it was before the storm. About 5:56 p.m. July 27, 2010.

At that point, I thought it would be a matter of getting someone to cut the fallen branches to workable lengths and haul them off: then wait for the tree to grow to its full height again. That willow has weathered a great many storms.

Walking round to the other side of the tree, though: I'm not so sure it'll come back this time. Or that it's a good idea to let it re-grow the upper works.

I'm really glad this wasn't close to anything other than the shed. About 5:59 p.m. July 27, 2010.

Most of the old willow is on the ground now. About 5:59 p.m. July 27, 2010.

A few minutes after six, I noticed a squirrel on the stub of a branch, on the one remaining top trunk of the tree. It had stepped out, a bit like a homeowner coming out on the front stoop to look around after a storm. Which it probably was doing: Quite a few squirrels lived in that old willow. After looking around, the squirrel sat up and started rather vigorously grooming its tail.

Later in the evening, I heard an unfamiliar bird squawking. My guess is that it's another dispossessed critter from the tree.

Still later, we got this sunset:

Sunset. July 27, 2010.

Meanwhile, I've made about 150 tickets for the Knights of Columbus bingo workers. We're getting ready to be at the 'bingo booth' at the Stearns County Fair again this year.


Brigid said...

I think you meant 'to': "cut the fallen branches do workable lengths"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

P.S. I don't want the old willow to go! Please let it try to grow back.

Brian H. Gill said...


Thanks: and that I did.

I'm quite fond of the old willow, too: and your Mom was talking about an 'elf house' in or under it.

On the other hand, the lower trunk is quite hollow with rot - and I remember the trees in front of the house, that were ready to go.

Be assured: I intend to keep the willow if possible, re-plant if necessary.

Brian H. Gill said...

About re-planting a willow: See the reply to the fourth question down: "Questions on: Willow," Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service.

Brigid said...

@Dad: But wouldn't it take another hundred years for a cutting to acquire the same character that the old tree did? And then there's that spot among the roots that's covered in moss that makes such a nice seat. Or at least did before the lilac tried to grow suckers there.

Brian H. Gill said...


It's possible that the willow, as it is now, can be kept. I checked at that NDSU Extension Service page (linked in a previous comment) - here's what the fellow had to say about willows and growth:

"Is it a weeping willow or pussy willow? I'll assume the former. Willows will grow by feet a year, not inches, and will develop a spread equal to their height in many instances."

That matches my experience. That willow has been a fast-growing tree. My worst-case scenario involves using one of the surviving branches as a cutting, and planting that. Probably a little more to the east, by a yard or two.

I don't think a willow can help but develop 'character:' so I'm not particularly worried about that.

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