There was, to borrow a phrase, an earth-shattering ka-boom. I launched up from a dead sleep like Nosferatu on Red Bull.
In that incredible space where time dilates and the brain can work blazingly fast, before I was upright I had already considered and discarded thunder (we were having a storm but the sound profile was different) or a blown transformer (I’ve heard that from very close, it didn’t match either, and besides there isn’t one nearby). Sitting up, looking out the window, I recalled a friend telling me that the recent Tokyo fireball had awakened her in the night, and I seriously wondered if we’d just had a meteor strike.
No meteor, but a strike — the huge walnut tree just outside our house had taken a lightning bolt.
The sound profile makes sense, now; normally when we you hear thunder, you’re hearing it with a Doppler effect, as a series of sonic booms rolls toward your ears. Even the closest thunder I’d ever heard did not match the sound of a sonic boom nearly directly overhead, just a single window away.
The tree looks like a ferocious monster simply took a series of bites out of the trunk. Wood was blown all around, some smaller pieces but some the size of trees in their own right. After my husband chainsawed a few pieces apart to free the fence they’d crushed, they were still five or six feet long each (collected at base of tree in photos below).
The sap in the wood had boiled — vaporized — which both exploded the trunk and left a silky smooth texture not normally found in fresh lumber.
How hard does a lightning-struck tree blow out? Check out this oversized shrapnel which launched onto a T-post and impaled itself to stay. (The dark tone is scorching.)
All in all, I am grateful that it was a tree and not my house, that the bolt ran down the tree and not down into my house which the tree touches, and that the tree did not fall on either our fence or our house. I am grateful that I was not trapped, like last year’s tree incident (though at least that would be less urgent this year). I am hopeful there’s enough of the tree to survive, but we’ll see. That was enough adrenaline that I didn’t go back to sleep for over an hour.
Meanwhile, I did another exciting thing last week: I inaugurated my new streaming video on both YouTube and Twitch! I talked about why you are totally justified in creating art (even if you have other obligations in your life and even if you’re not making money from it) and a bit about my plans and progress.
This week is Gen Con, gone virtual, and we’ll be streaming some of our events on those same channels. (Gen Con badges are free this year, and most events are either free or $2. Our most expensive workshop is $4. It’s a great year to experiment!) That and rare-in-2020 social commitments affect my streaming options — if I were a better planner, maybe I wouldn’t have started the week before Gen Con? — but I’ll still be back briefly this week, when I’ll be talking briefly again about creating, introducing some giveaways, and revealing what’s coming in the future.
Catch me on Wednesday night this week, at 6 pm Eastern. I’ll be on both platforms simultaneously, and the chat will be shared so you can contribute from either place.
And I’ll have to move the day again the following week, but that’s for a very good reason, as I’ll share in the video.
See you soon!