Summer thunderstorms have been frequent and violent this year, with lots of pounding rain, lightning (some of it too close for comfort) and gusty winds.  So far, there has been no damage to speak (or write) of but each storm scatters the yard with leaves, twigs and small branches.  The three spruce trees in our neighbor’s yard are shedding their needles and the wind deposits them everywhere, including in the pool.  Like their namesakes, the needles are very pointy and sharp (I usually find them with my bare feet).

The evening before last, a particularly windy thunderstorm passed through.  The day’s weather had been lackluster, hot of course but neither sunny nor fully overcast.  It was one of those days when Mother Nature seemed unable or unwilling to make up her mind.  Anyway, the storm came upon us quickly, as these storms are apt to do, about an hour before sunset.  The sky darkened, thunder rumbled up the valley and the pitter-pat of light rain began to sound on the trees’ canopy of leaves.

The wind started with just a few gusts but quickly developed into a sustained blast of gale-force winds that were constantly changing direction.  It was thrilling (and alarming) to watch the 40-foot-tall trees around us rapidly swaying back and forth as the storm passed through.  It was also easy to imagine how tornadoes can be spawned from these conditions.  The lights blinked and dimmed (a power line was failing somewhere) for about five minutes before the storm front moved on, followed by torrential rains.  The deluge lasted another ten minutes before the sky returned to calm.  By then it was twilight.

To our surprise, we found only one downed branch the next morning.  The pool was a mess (everything seems to end up in there) but the garden was mostly unaffected.  Despite our recent pruning, the cucumbers are still top-heavy on their cages and as a result, they were listing to the south.  When I tried to set them right, I could not get them to remain vertical.  Over the last few weeks of windy weather, the legs of the cages have become loose in the soil.

As a remedy, I drove a cedar stake deeply into the soil at the front of each cage while Rachel held it plumb.  With a strip of Velcro tape, I lashed the cages to the stakes making everything fast and shipshape.  For good measure, I also added a stake beside the eggplant and bell pepper plant.  They are growing taller every day and with an eggplant and two peppers ripening, will soon be prone to toppling.

I’m not sure why I didn’t install the stakes from the beginning (wishful thinking for a calm summer?) but now we are ready for the next big storm.

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