Thursday 23 October 2014

Even mighty oak trees give way to humbling power of mother nature

Published 17/02/2014 | 02:30

A mother with three of her children and their grandmother had a miracle escape when this very large tree was blown on to the car in which they were travelling at Block Rd., Portlaoise at the height of the storm.  Collette Brennan from Ballylinan, was accompanied by her mother Mary and three of her children,Ella 12, Eoin 8 and 13 week old Ollie- Liam, at the time Photo Tim Keane
A mother with three of her children and their grandmother had a miracle escape when this very large tree was blown on to the car in which they were travelling at Block Rd., Portlaoise at the height of the storm. Collette Brennan from Ballylinan, was accompanied by her mother Mary and three of her children,Ella 12, Eoin 8 and 13 week old Ollie- Liam, at the time Photo Tim Keane
Upper Mallow Street, Limerick was closed when a tree fell from the Peoples Park during storm Darwin. Picture: Sean Curtin Photo
Upper Mallow Street, Limerick was closed when a tree fell from the Peoples Park during storm Darwin. Picture: Sean Curtin Photo
A BMW car was destroyed when bricks from a wall came down from a building during storm Darwin in Myles Street, Limerick City. Picture: Sean Curtin Photo
A BMW car was destroyed when bricks from a wall came down from a building during storm Darwin in Myles Street, Limerick City. Picture: Sean Curtin Photo

Among the losses are the big trees stranded all over The Town Park, like giant beached whales

Slates crashed from high houses. Windows were blown in. Cars were rocking cradles and road signs cartwheeled up our street like tumbleweed. It was The Day of the Big Wind.

There she was, The Woman Who Hasn't Had Sex in 37 Years, out in the middle of the tempest.

She took tiny bird steps, with her shopping bag hanging off her arm, the other hand held firm on the knitted tea cosy, grafted on her head like a second cranium.

But it's no good. There's a gust as fast as a speeding car that lifts the hat clean off her head, and I always thought it would take a neurosurgeon to take off that tea cosy hat. She wears it winter and summer.

I saw her knickers – briefly, when a gust lifted up her shin-length, stiff tweed skirt. Was I the first man in 37 years to see the to-the-knees lingerie?

It was also the first time I had ever seen the lady's hair. It's flat, as you would expect from being compressed for all those years under the wooly hat. Even the mad wind can't lift her hair. It's the same as the grass after an elephant has been sleeping on it. And dyed black as a TD's shoes. Why would the lady dye the hair when she never took off her hat?

Do I rush out to save her or just watch the old dear get blown away? What's she doing out in the worst gale in even dead memory? Putting my life at risk. That annoys me. With her frigging shopping bag. And the shops closed.

A torn piece of jagged corrugated iron rips up William Street. If it hits The Woman Who Hasn't Had Sex in 37 Years, she's decapitated.

I'm in a funk. The rain comes through the windows. The whole house is shaking. She takes a step, but the wind drives her back like the Munster pack.

Out I go into the gale to save her. A hero. But not unsung. I get to thinking I might get a good column out of it.

There are times when I am ashamed of myself. Then I think, if I'm killed, will I be branded an adrenalin junkie and be accused of putting the lives of others at risk?

'Get your hands off me,' she says to the man who got there before me. Then she sees me under my own woolly hat.

The lady cackles. She tells me, again, she hasn't had sex in 37 years, there in a wind that would take the toupee off Donald Trump. We have to call to the school and on the way back home there's a chimney half hanging off a bungalow.

Selflessly and without any fear for our own safety, we knock at the door. The wind isn't as bad now, but bad enough.

A lady answers. We tell her the chimney is half hanging off.

'Which one', she asks? 'The one on the roof,' I answer, watching out in case it fell on me.

The lady asks why I'm wearing a bicycle helmet.

'Because I'm afraid your chimney will fall on my head, of which I have only the one,' I answer, with just a trace of sarcasm as I roar to get heard above the banshee winds.

The lady with the hanging chimney looks up and says, 'Oh it's fine. I have two chimneys and I have the fire on under the other one.'

We drive on.

There's a man on his power walk. He's so caught up with the sounds from his earphones that he doesn't even notice the storm. A tree falls, but on he goes. Oblivious.

The man is probably in Clare now, blown away over the estuary. But he must have had a soft landing as we haven't heard of him being hurt or worse.

Amazingly, Storm Darwin may well have ensured the continuation of the species.

There has been much speculation as to the effect Darwin will have on the birth rate. The electricity is still out in many areas and we have heard horror stories of couples who have been forced into talking to each other since Wednesday.

'Coronation Street' is a contraceptive. It's a wonder the church hasn't tried to ban it. And what does The Iona Institute have to say on the matter?

Among the losses are the big trees stranded all over The Town Park, like giant beached whales.

There was a massive fallen oak, roots exposed, waiting to be cut up into blocks. The bare tangle of the exposed roots made the tree seem naked, defenceless and embarrassed.

This was the old oak we met under to tog out for football training. The tree we courted under, took shelter under. It was our meeting place tree. I was sure my favourite tree would see me out. That old oak was a giant when my dad was a boy.

This Sunday morning I meet The Woman Who Hasn't Had Sex For 37 years.

There's no mention of my saving her life, but she does tell me she hasn't had sex in 37 years.

Irish Independent

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