Day 3 – The Drive Around…

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Day Three – The Drive Around – Monday; 10/31

House View

We knew we needed to get more bottled water for cooking and drinking so we attempted to travel.  It was very apparent damage was going to be extensive just based on the trees we saw fallen and torn by their roots in our yards and those around us.

Fire and police sirens continued in the distance, and we would hear them “every day” from the start of Snowlloween to well after power returns.  And my husband’s first attempt to drive to work yesterday failed, as I expected. As he exited our driveway to the west, it was impossible to pass due to downed power lines, trees dangling from wires, and fallen limbs.  And the main route closest to our home, Route 140, was a complete mess, all unpassable.  It was the first time we literally could not get to the highway.

So when we decided to hit the road on day three, we drove east to head through the center of Broad Brook down Main Street. A local convenience store had its doors open with an alarm loudly ringing inside.  I was quick to run in and request the last two six packs of water for I was worried about those non-emergency supplies lacking in our home.  The store’s owner said he was not technically open but he would sell them to me.  I think he had no choice, for I would have begged, and he knew it.

After getting water, we decided to go see if my brother and family nearby in Ellington were okay.  Generator already running in their driveway, they offered us a much appreciated hot cup of coffee.  I asked to plug in my cell phone to charge it.  When I unplugged their loudly playing radio boom box – the radio kept on playing!  We all laughed.  It was all running on the internal battery versus the hook up to their generator all morning.

These small funny moments kept occurring as the days continued here and there. We were lucky, our family – all residing close by – were here for us.  We all were without power, but not out of humor as we would go visit each other in the coming days.  We managed to keep our cool, most of the time, by sharing our stories and offering help to each other.  This was a family bonding experience, one I’m sure we will continue to talk about over the coming holiday gatherings.

Knowing we had plenty of wood stacked at our home from August’s tropical storm – but all unseasoned, we had to find some in town to make it through the week to come. I remembered a home where it is sold by a local fellow, so we headed there for a supply.  The guy selling the wood had told us a woman came by in her car with kids, saying she had no money – so he loaded her vehicle up with wood for free.  It was nice to hear of generous spirits.  After my truck’s bed was loaded with wood, we drove back home.

As we pulled into our driveway, I noticed our three Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry bushes by the base of my deck were crushed to the ground. The long slender branches were full with clusters of purple berries at the leaf axils and still holding strong even after Snowlloween.

Prior January

These deciduous shrubs, native to China and Japan, offer one of the best falls shows.  The purple berries – a unique color for berries in my opinion – hang on in groupings on arching stems following their blooms in late summer through August.  They are a sight to see – even if they are surrounded by snow.

Before early spring, I had pruned them hard because they were damaged by a heavy snowfall in January (as shown in this photo).  As a result, this year, they gave me the best abundant show ever as the new growth produced an amazing flush.  These shrubs look great massed. Yet now – in October – they were a mess again.

At this point, what is the best course of action to deal with my ‘yet again’ damaged shrubs?  Pruning trees or shrubs in the fall is not recommended because the pruning process itself can induce more growth if we get a warmup before winter.  The new growth won’t be hardened off; it won’t be accustomed to the new climate of the winter season approaching, thus its vulnerable. Plus these shrubs, which bloom in the summer on new wood, should be pruned before new growth begins, in the winter or early spring.  Technically we are not talking a routine pruning process here – but a clean up process from damage.

Our calendar says the first day of winter is not until the end of December, but Snowlloween tricked us into one big winter burst.  Should I wait for our real winter to arrive in a few weeks to clean these shrubs up or can it wait til spring?  For now, on this day, I’ll just give them a chance to recover – just like we need a chance to do so as well.  My shrubs are probably just as confused as I am.  Mother nature has again reminded us that dealing with her mood swings is the beauty and beast of being a nature lover, plant enthusiast, or gardener.

P.S.  The Connecticut Horticultural Society is going to discuss how to help plants damaged by the storm next week at their Thursday meeting in West Hartford, CT.  For more information – visit their website:  Non-members are welcome for a small entrance fee.  The talk on damage control will be followed by their featured speaker as noted under “PROGRAM MEETINGS” on their website. 

And yes – my Snowlloween diary is…”To Be Continued…”

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