In hindsight, it probably would have been wiser to stay inside, but I am a creature of habit, and even something as perilous as Storm Ciara was not going to prevent me from taking my regular Sunday morning walk in my local park.
Small branches and bits of debris already littered the pavement, and I was awake to the potential danger of loose tiles falling from the roofs of my neighbours’ old Victorian houses – I had already had one close call as far as that kind of thing is concerned.
By the time I reached the park, the small fallen branches had turned into large fallen branches. I took heed of the natural signs; Ray Mears would have been impressed by my inherent bushcraft. Taking sensible precautions, I avoided walking directly along the Lime Avenue; instead, tried to keep to the wide, open spaces, but it was hard to avoid walking beneath trees altogether.
However, I reasoned, that if a big branch or entire tree were going to fall, I would have plenty of time to avoid it. There would be a lengthy, warning crack of impending disaster, followed by a comic-book, slow-motion felling; time enough for me to leisurely step aside from the danger, perhaps even uttering an ironic “Timber” for good measure.
Not so. When it happened, it happened fast. The sharp crack of the snapping trunk and the loud, echoing thud as it hit the ground were practically simultaneous. Between the two sounds there was not time to react; not time to turn; not to move; not to begin to utter even the first syllable of “Tim…”
Thankfully, the falling tree was sufficiently distant from me that I walked away unscathed. But it was a salutary lesson: things fall fast.
It provided me with occasion to make another reassessment of my mortality. Living in a predominantly urban environment, I had previously always pictured myself perishing in a freak scaffolding-collapse accident.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Despite possessing an A Level in Physics, Simon Turner-Tree has only a very hazy grasp of basic Newtonian dynamics.