by Michaele Benedict
Our tiny north room, ten feet by twelve with five windows, is the place to be during a storm.
If you sit in just the right spot, you can see the waves of the Pacific crashing at the foot of Montara Mountain. You can see the blurred images of cars driving over the Slide, following the watery reflections of their own headlights on the road. It is an impressionist painting, seen through the wavery old glass windows, soft-edged and nuanced.
A battery radio and most of the candles are in here in case the power goes out. You could survive quite a while on the jam and chutney stacked atop the cupboard. The family pictures are here, as well as 20-something Byzantine ikons, in case you need a meditative moment.
Here, through some quirk of reflection in the window at right angles to the bathroom window, we can see the traffic pass by on Sixth Street, though the street itself is above sight level if you try to look at it directly.
We spend most of our time in this room anyway, since the north light is good for painting and the dining room table and my desk and computer are here.
The room is also the farthest away from the cypresses, which have a dismaying way of dropping big branches on the car and house during a storm. We have 19 of them and a 100-foot log fence four feet tall made from fallen limbs and the trees which have had to be removed. The grandfather of all cypresses, 70 feet tall and 14 feet around the trunk, grows a scant dozen feet from my piano in the front room, its root system probably spanning the entire foundation of the house.
Thanks to more tree work than I can describe, thinning, pruning, removing fallen and falling branches, storms now produce mostly wind music from the thrashing limbs and a rain of cypress cones and needles.
Our most spectacular cypress incident occurred during a December storm when I lived across the street, where there were only five or six cypresses. In the middle of the night, I was awakened by a loud noise and a violent shaking. Groggily, I turned on the bedside lamp and wondered why the ceiling had turned green.
When I put on my glasses, I saw that a cypress branch had fallen on the skylight directly above the bed, had shattered the skylight and come through the ceiling, stopping a few feet from where I lay sleeping.
It was pretty, like a Christmas tree hanging from the ceiling, and it smelled wonderful. When we went outside in the morning, we saw that we had had a very narrow escape.
Michaele (Mikie) Benedict is the author of “Searching for Anna”
To visit Mikie’s blog, Writeritewrightright.blogspot.com, please click here
Email Michaele: [email protected]