Under the Protection of Trees
All day long they had stretched out their boughs to an azure sky, green and blue mingling to create an aquamarine sea in the air all around us. Light from a golden sun dripped down like honey through leaves slowly waving in an afternoon breeze. It was a day made for May, a near perfect creation with nary a hint of drama nor fear.
The darkening of the sky was imperceptible at first, a mere triviality this close to nightfall. The wind remained in the wings until the very last moment, when it suddenly rushed on stage as in act three of Lear, coaxing ominous tunes from the wind chimes as it whipped round the garden, an invisible portent of the chaos to come. The old trees took notice. Before our eyes they seemed to grow taller, every sprig and spray of green burgeoning, billowing, to link arms with each other over our roof. Like eagle’s wings they covered us as the hail began to fall.
Blown in by the theatrical wind, it crashed into our garden with a deafening sound, an artillery of ice as unusual as it was destructive. The floor of the garden turned white, a macabre snowfall on the doorstep of summer. For at least twenty minutes it continued to fall as we stood at the window as helpless as kittens. And then, like a dream, it was over.
As an otherworldly fog rose up from the icy ground, like Dorothy on arrival in Oz, we stepped out our door, expecting to see the garden in ruins.
But the hydrangea blossoms were smiling.
The rose was untouched.
The yellow petunias, crystal-fragile and translucent, still cascaded over the stone planters, as fresh and unspoiled as morning. We looked up at the trees - the magnolia, the poplar, the pine and the oak - our giant sentinels, our protectors - and not for the first time, we nodded our thanks.
The hailstorm of last week was an unusual one. It lasted much longer than any we’ve ever experienced and gave us a violent pounding that caused me to put my fingers in my ears. We got out afterwards to look round the neighbourhood. The streets were covered in pine needles and thick with a fog unlike any we’ve seen. The ground was white. Most gardens had a good deal of destruction, but our big trees broke the fall of the ice and we escaped any damage.
One more reason to love them.