Monday evening on the swake was punctuated by two equally spectacular natural phenomena; a fabulous sunset followed by furious winds. The sunsets here are legendary, but this particular night the heavens were especially glorious. Royal purple and gold swaths of color wrapped the cumulus overhead, the colors shifting and changing by the moment. Greg and Kanti were watching the evening show from the swake, and I was glimpsing the same sunset about fifteen kilometers away between drives, sand shots, and multiple putts.
It wasn’t an ominous sky; it was the type of sky where you half expect a host of angels to step out from behind the golden clouds to form a flash mob and sign the Hallelujah chorus. But the sweetness of the view was interrupted when winds suddenly roared across the swake and through the house blowing out a window screen, picking up the patio furniture and tossing it to the other side of the deck, and snapping trees in half. The wind came from the south with a fury that we have never witnessed before on or off the swake. Greg went from window to window, cranking them shut. In minutes it was over, the wind had passed and all was quiet again.
I was within a kilometer of home when I came upon the dust cloud. Bits of tree branches and small pebbles peppered the vehicle as I drove through the wind storm rocked by the furious wind. It was nasty but until I reached the driveway, I was completely oblivious to the carnage that it had wrought. As I rounded the corner I noticed one of our enormous pine trees listing northward at 45 degrees, teetering with its top snagged against another tree. Another large pine near Kanti’s kennel was snapped off twelve feet from the ground leaving a jagged gaping space. There was an eerie stillness on the swake. The ducks, geese, frogs, robins and all other creatures that normally regale us with their songs had fallen silent.
We too were silenced, caught in a mixture of wonder and disbelief. Then the phone rang, jangling us back to the reality of the situation. It was the neighbor calling to find out if we were okay and what kind of damage had we sustained. He figured we had a mini-tornado come through and I suspect he was correct. Kanti meanwhile left the house and barreled down to the south west corner of our property where she stood sentry for a while, barking at the sky. Once she was satisfied she had done her duty in scaring off any more unusual winds from crossing the property line, she returned to help Greg survey the damage. Slowly the frogs gathered their courage and began to croak and the birds joined in the chorus returning the swake to its raucous evening songs.
We wandered around counting damaged trees and enjoying the semblance of returning normalcy in the emerging songs and croaks of the swake critters. We were fortunate; all the trees fell away from any structures and away from the driveway. There was no damage to the house. It stood rock solid without even a shingle blowing loose. The wind storm was an experience that prompted me to reflect on how life can switch in an instant, how nature can present the fabulous and the furious within a few breaths, and how important it is to live each breath fully.