June 24, 2008
Around twenty years ago, Rochester was hit with a devastating tornado. You can find homes that have the plumbing comprised of copper in one half and plastic in the other, marking the line of demarcation the tornado took.
Now, there is an elaborate system of warning sirens around the lake. When the sirens wail, I’m always happy to have a big, deep basement (more aout that in another post).
About five years ago, we had our own, very strange little twister come for a visit. I was off the island on a sailing trip but the evidence to the tale told by my wife was clearly there upon my return.
A thunder storm had swept in as they often do, and my wife and her sister were watching the majesty of it from the family room windows. Suddenly the atmosphere became very dark and a big blow came in that shook the house for a brief moment.
Now I need to digress for a little tidbit of island history. Some time ago, long before we became the masters of this little place, a family must have enjoyed a very sweet Christmas here. Next to the front bell pole stood what had to have been their Christmas tree, re-planted after the season. It always bothered me a bit that we had a non-native tree here, but I was compensated by the memories it must have provided for the family that planted it. Next to that tree was another non-native oddity—a totem pole! It was rather poorly done, but it had stood in this position at least since the fifties and had become such a lake icon that I would not take it down.
Back to the storm. As the house shook and the sky went from day to night my wife and sister saw a great disturbance at the Christmas tree. In a few moments, things were quiet again—but the Christmas tree and the totem pole were gone. When I returned from my sailing voyage I was greeted by a three foot stump that was twisted like a cork screw. The totem pole had been blasted into kindling and was strewn all over the front yard. The bell pole, which stood between the tree and the totem (which were six feet apart), remained. The only other evidence of this baby twister’s visit came at the shore, where it had picked up a sizable deck boat, complete with lift and canopy, and turned it neatly upside down. Such are the vagaries of tornados. In eleven years, that has been our experience with the big blows. Happily, the other siren sounds have been false alarms.