As it turned out, my complacent pooh-poohing of the storm warning was sadly premature, and the NOAA weather forecasters knew what they were broadcasting about on that fateful Memorial Day. A storm cell started growing in South Dakota around 4 pm and grew steadily in strength as it moved to the northeast. I tracked it on Doppler radar with my laptop and watched it move directly toward my location. By the time it reached us, around 11:10 pm, it was intense indeed, though for only about 15 minutes. The lightning was occurring so frequently that new strikes came before the echoes of the previous ones had died out, and the wind was really fierce for about 10 minutes. None of the lightning strikes seemed alarmingly close, but around 11:15 there was a sudden flash and all the lights went out. I was thankful that I’d made the appropriate preparations, and we waited out the worst of it by candlelight in the basement, with the NOAA radio on battery, until it had safely passed. The next morning I was able to survey the damage and discovered that the power meter had been literally ripped free of its attachments on the pole to which the
power supply wires were attached. I thought it was the result of a lightning strike, but I couldn’t remember any close ones at the time when the power had gone out. I reported the outage to the power company with my cell phone and left a message, then settled down to do some cleanup. An agent called back within 10 minutes, and she said they’d have someone out shortly to do an assessment and determine what would be needed. A tech was there within the hour and he called in his report, saying that a crew would be out soon to do the repair. They appeared with two hours of his call, and the senior one determined that it had not been a direct strike, but rather that the wild wind had snapped the top off a dead white birch and it had fallen onto the power line to the cabin, snapping the cable
that maintained its tension and then falling on the power meter. The cable had snapped far enough away from the power pole that a person couldn’t reach it by climbing the pole, so they had to back the truck as close as possible to be able to reach it with the cherry-picker attachment. They were professionals and performed the task with amazingly little impact to the grounds.
My power was restored 13 hours after it had gone out, thanks to the wonderful efficiency of the Beltrami Electrical Cooperative, in time for my guest: My oldest (or, rather, longest-standing) musical cohort, Tommy Dee, wound up my week with a brief visit, arriving Tuesday evening, staying all the next day, and returning home Thursday morning, shortly before I had to leave to return home myself. While he was there, we made lots of music (I’d brought two guitars, my ukulele, and my charango; and he brought two guitars, his new banjo, and his fiddle) and he helped me to clear up the larger branches that had come down. It was a much-too-brief stay, but any time together is worth the effort. Before he left, he followed my lead and hand-fed the chipmunk, to his great delight.