Friday, September 18, 2009
Past 1AM, Sunday 6 Sept,09. The loud whirling wind, ominous of an impending storm jolted my husband and I from our sweet slumbers.
Both of us bolted from the bed, sleepy-eyed,in auto mode to close the windows. The house seemed to shake and the rain was beginning to lash into the room. Trees were wheezing in the howling wind.
Out of the blue, a silvery bolt struck - we glimpsed a lightning streak of light zap past outide the windows.
Instantly - a crash thundered and we were plunged into total darkness. GAWD! We scanned hard but nothing seemed visible for any tell-tale sign.
We reached out for the standby slender emergency lamp and dialled TNB ( Tenaga Nasional Berhad). Hubby reported a storm had cut off the neighbourhood's entire power supply. They promised to act upon it.
Nothing to do about it, amidst rain and all. So back to sleep,tho intermittent. Luckily the mozzies were not active. Was it the sudden coolness of the air?
8 am - lo and behold! - looking out of our balcony, just out of the corner of our eyes, we were STUMPED - an old tree, well over 30 years had uprooted and lain across the road at the bend, lamp posts- cracked and snapped in parts were down , telephone wires were loosely hanging among trees,broken branches, and the green mess of leaves, wet and dishevelled on the road.
By then, curious residents with their children had come to check out the scene of destruction. What was on everyone's mind? Gratitude. No one was hurt. Thank God! I saw the parents took pains to talk about the incident.
What made the tree succumb to the freak storm? It seemed so old and strong. Someone said it was probably white ants at work. I didn't see any signs of termite activity as I had regularly tried to exterminate the big red ants that made their nests there. I was rather shocked to see there were hardly any roots yanked off. Obviously the long taproot of the pongamia pinnata which should have developed didn't.
10 am - men and machines moved in to tackle the mess. The whining and whirring of the chain saws began. Human voices rose above the machines shouting instructions. The backhoe scooped the cut logs mightily and dumped them into the lorries. Coping with the trail of destruction is heavy toil. Made me wonder of calamities that happen and brave rescuers put their hearts and souls to be the best they can be, on land, sea or air. I must say they worked hard, methodically tackling the tree - chunk by chunk. And the entire wreckage was hauled away in 2 lorries within 2 hours.
I took the opportunity to record the demise of a towering grand old tree, the pongamia pinnata ( Indian beech tree) , a deciduous legume tree. At the same time, I got to talk to the supervisor of City Hall workers my concern about some over-arching trees that lean so precariously further down the road. Some of the trees seem to have a poor root system. I was like a prophet of doom but best to ring the alarm bells before calamity strikes.
Now the hole is vacant, the drain cracked - near where the tree last stood. A week later,I was at a Gardening Soc talk and the vice -president, Dr Tan informed the members that a few saplings of the gnetum gnenom ( meninjau ) were on sale.I paid RM 10.00 for 2 really small ones in the polybag. I can't wait to transplant them in the ground. Well nurtured, they will grow to 15 metres tall.
I was told it is rather fast growing; the fruit is edible and the seed roasted, flattened, dried and fried makes the empeng crackers.
Keeping my fingers crosssed. Patience will be a virtue as I nurture this new plant. The wait begins...