Sophie Says: Mother nature

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Gramps Says Usually when Mother Nature kicks up her heels, we think of disasters. In California fires are fresh on our minds. My personal experience has been with hurricanes, freezes and floods.  Within a month after reporting to my new assignment as general manager of a 200 acre nursery growing grounds near Houston we were struck by Hurricane Alicia. In the aftermath of that event we had to rebuild many acres of shade structures. Alicia was child’s play compared to the deep freeze that hit later during the holiday season. The arctic winds blasted us for 15 straight days. At one point our thermometer read 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Our irrigation system was severely damaged and rendered useless. As a result of the freeze and plant desiccation we lost most of our crops. I could fill this entire page with the woes of that tale. After moving to Winters I attempted to travel to a morning dental appointment in Vacaville. It was one of those wet years and on that day it was pouring. Highway 505 and the frontage road were flooded near Allendale Road.  A bridge on Pleasants Valley Road had been washed away and was somewhere downstream where it wouldn’t do me any good. The intersection of County road 98 and West Covell Blvd. was under water. By then my appointment time had run out. Well, that isn’t exactly a disaster but it qualifies as an inconvenience. Depending on how you feel about dentists, it may classify as deliverance.  Once in a while Mother Nature hands you a gift.  My assignment was to locate a site and head up the design and construction of a new Hines Nursery site near Winters. State and county permitting turned out to be problematic for phase two of the construction.  The permitting issue was a Swainson’s Hawk nest located in the top of a solitary old tree which was located several hundred feet away on neighboring property. We were eventually permitted but with the stipulation that no land leveling or heavy construction could take place during the hawks nesting season, which was most of the summer. We were suffering some anxiety. There was an urgent need for space to meet customer contracts. Early one morning on my drive onto the site, a foreman stopped me and announced, “I think our timetable problem has been solved. The tree is gone.” Upon inspection we found that sometime during the night the tree had been struck by lightning and the tree and nest had been shredded.” John Pardee and his land levelers moved in and we managed to finish phase two on time and under budget.  Sophie Says I’ve never met a Swainson’s Hawk, but I am sure it is a fine and noble bird. Of course, the lightning strike was not a laughing matter for the hawk. However, I feel comforted in knowing that the hawk was already in a better tree and nest somewhere else as no one had seen a hawk in the vicinity of the old tree for several years.  My experience with birds is limited to a blue jay that used to dive bomb me. I should have known better, but I couldn’t help myself from jumping and barking, which just gave him further encouragement. On one occasion he let his guard down and got a little too brazen. He left our yard missing some of his tail feathers and he hasn’t bothered me since.   ]]>

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