An ounce of prevention…
I stood in the driving rain on our back deck, the freshly finished surface slick and wet, the wind pushing me against the railing, just as it had rudely shoved all the plants and furnishings to carelessly assemble into an untidy heap around me. There was no sign of the new steel pergola, but then I knew where it had gone. There it was on the wet grass about twenty feet below me, disassembled and flat, two posts resting partially on the concrete pad, the top inverted and angled into dense bushes, water gleefully pooling in its canvas hollows. The two forward posts were nowhere to be found, but I could see the trajectory path of broken branches where they had been launched into the vegetation hiding the swollen creek that roared in the background, more a raging river than its usual meek trickle.
That morning, David and I had left for work early. I listened to the weather forecast, but the heavy storms weren’t predicted until the afternoon. We considered removing the pergola cover, but decided we didn’t have the five minutes it would take. Later would be good enough. As I rushed home at lunch to walk our dogs before the darkening skies erupted, I didn’t even consider the potential air glider that even then was billowing under nearly full sail. When the storm hit, it was too late. I was in the kitchen when I heard the heavy sliding sound of objects moving outside. First, the lighter plants, then the wicker furniture, finally terra-cotta pots as the posts of the pergola strained under the torque of wind applied to cloth. I stepped outside to the tremendous clap of a lightning strike nearby and beat a hasty retreat. Now, that would really be stupid. I’ll call David. I reached him at work just about the time a final lethal gust of wind erased any sign of the steel structure. I did what any capable, intelligent woman would. I screamed.
David came home in the driving rain. By then, I had been outside retrieving whatever I could. It took us about 45 minutes to finish disassembling what had briefly been the pride of our deck. My bare feet were mud and grass covered, and my drenched clothes were in a similar state. The result of our labors was to make the destruction look more deliberate than accidental, ordered mayhem if you will.
Today, after another spate of morning storms, it is lovely. A gentle breeze wafts across the sunny surface of our deck. The only mementos of violent weather are a broken pot, a few damaged flowers, and the pieces of our pergola neatly stacked on the concrete pad below. Maybe she will rise again. That is for another day. All I can say, is that if she does, I can spare the five minutes.