There was a loud thud. That should have been my first clue.
A few weeks ago we had a small snowfall. Not many inches but, it was very wet. This is not that common for this area but, it does happen from time to time. The leaves on the trees were only just starting to turn so, most of the trees were still very green. The night the snow fell I had prepared myself to get up extra early the next morning so as to shovel the drive and walkways.
I was slightly prepared for something bad, as I had heard a loud ‘thud’ of a something hitting our roof. When the snow comes, this is a common sound. We have a flat roof, and as such, the sounds of sticks and wet snow-clumps plopping from the treetops are familiar. Although, at 5:00 a.m., it was louder and slightly more alarming. It sounded like a tree branch had hit the roof, not just a larger stick. Once outside I discovered the truth: A large tree branch had fallen and hit our roof—sort of.
Remember, while there wasn’t much snow, it was wet and very heavy. This was too much for one of our tree’s branches and it had snapped off and hit the roof. But, instead of just rolling or bouncing off the roof and onto my car (our house’s parking spaces are right under this tree, next to the house) it got caught on the rain gutter and stayed put—on top of the roof. Small miracle. Now, it may have only made small scratches on the car if it had fallen and hit it, but it didn’t. So, small miracle.
That afternoon, after work, when I pulled into my driveway, I saw another branch hanging down from the tree, over the roof of our house, but it was about to go. Great… Another branch snapped. Fine. So, only one thing to do: Get out the ladder and saw… So I did.
I had the cars moved from off of the driveway, just in case the branch I was about to break completely free from the tree fell that way. It turned out that the branch was almost totally broken off anyway. All I would have to do was wiggle it about a bit and it should snap off under its own weight. So, I did. And, it did. I moved the branch a bit and it snapped right off from a main arm of the trunk. It then proceeded to roll off the roof and land right where my car would have been.
Yeah… That branch would definitely have scratched my car. And, it might have dented it. A little. And, it may have broken a window—you know, depending upon where the branch would have hit. It was a decent sized branch. It had a good weight to it. Another small miracle.
Those branches were moved off the driveway and onto the lawn, to be cut up on another day. Not a lot of work to do, and, it was something I could have done in a Saturday’s morning. But, the next day had different plans.
Some more snow, and another early morning of shoveling before I would head off to work. See, I like to have things as cleared as I can so that the sun can more readily heat up the walkways and driveway—assisting in the melting of the snow and drying of the pavement. Plus, if I shovel before I go to work, I don’t have to come home after work and shovel. I like it better that way.
Anyway, I went out, shoveled, returned to the inside of my home, and sat upon a step near my backdoor, then heard a heavy muffled thump on my roof. I didn’t think much of it at the time because—as mentioned before—I am used to the sound. Also, I had just pulled off my galoshes and set them down at the same time as the thump. So, I wasn’t exactly sure if the sound came from the rooftop or me dropping my boots.
When something hits our roof, the sound can get amplified and make the situation seem worse than it really is. When I stepped outside—on my way to work—it was still pretty dark, and with the porch light on, I couldn’t see anything amiss. Later that day I found it was as bad as it sounded. Worse actually.
Once again, as I returned home I spotted a large branch hanging from the tree that overhung my house. However, this one was much larger than the previous one. It seems that these three branches had been attached to my tree at the same point—almost stacked on top of each other. As each lower branch broke free, it weakened the part above it, causing a cascading breaking effect. The third one was the largest (by far) that had snapped off. It was also the heaviest (by far). To free it from the branch it was still barely attached to I just had to wiggle it back and forth a little bit and give it a twist. Then, it snapped right off. As it broke free and fell, it too hit the roof, rolled off, and landed right where my car would have been. This one would have scratched the paint, dented the roof (and maybe doors), and broken windows. It would have been bad. Another miracle.
I keep saying there were miracles because none of the branches fell completely off and hit my car. Each time a branch had broken it had either remained on the roof or slightly attached to the tree. The effort I used to break them off was nominal. The fact that those branches remained attached to the tree so that I would not have to have my car crushed are miracles, plain and simple.
Each one of those branches were all connected to our tree at the same point. Each one broke free on different days. Each one held on so that I could move my vehicles and ensure no property damage. Now, some people might see this as just chance or a real nice coincidence. Not me. I know that God was (is) watching out for me. The biggest branch is a good six inches in diameter (at least). Each branch only took minimal effort to remove from the spot where they had previously been solidly attached to the tree (or at least I thought solidly attached). The second one might have damaged my car, the third one would have. God was (is) watching out for me.
I now have a backyard full of branches that I am cutting up. After taking down the third branch I figured since I already had the ladder out, and my saw was already in use, I might as well trim off some dead areas that I didn’t get around to before. So, now, I have a yard full of branches, leaves, sticks, and stuff. I now got plenty of stuff to cut up. I got work to do. I have my pocket chainsaw, a pair of cutters to cut away the smaller branches, and my grandfather’s folding saw. This saw is perhaps one of the greatest things I own.
As a child I thought that a folding saw was amazing (I hadn’t seen another one anywhere), but when you add to it a scabbard… Well, it just gets better! I would later find out that my grandfather used to have two folding saws and had commissioned a local saddlemaker to craft scabbards for them. His idea was that the saws could hang from the saddlehorn so if, when herding the sheep or cattle, the horserider came across a low branch on a tree, rather than getting off the horse and rummaging through the saddlebags for the saw, he could just retrieve it from the nearby scabbard. Genius! Now that is forward, creative thinking. Once I knew that little bit, I was in awe of my grandfather and that saw.
My grandfather had died when my dad was sixteen, so, I never knew him. But, there was something about that story of a simple solution that impressed me. When my own father passed away, I wanted that saw. I wanted to be reminded of both the man I had known and the one I never did. Whenever I use that saw, I think of my grandfather. He was my father’s father. Then, I think of my dad and what kind of man he was. Sure, using a chainsaw to cut up all the wood would be quicker. But, this way, I am getting a lot of time to think about my father, his father, and how God kept those branches in place and blessed my life once again. I’m doing a lot of thinking.