Right before I went to bed Tuesday night, I heard a loud BAM outside from a close lightning strike. We had the drapes drawn, so I couldn’t really see the flash from the lightning, but I could tell it was close – too close for comfort. My wife was already fast asleep, and didn’t hear a thing. Everything seemed to be all right in the house, so I went to bed myself.
The next morning I looked over at the cemetery across the road from us, and I saw what the lightning had hit. The bark was peeled away from the giant tulip poplar tree over there, which is the largest of the trees in the small cemetery.
For those not familiar with it, the tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a common sight in this part of the world. This fast growing tree has tulip shaped blossoms in spring. This one just happens to be blooming now. The wood is lightweight and not very good for fuel, but it is easy to work and much used for woodworking and cabinetry.
The tulip poplar is also the state tree of Indiana. I don’t know if this fine specimen will survive the lightning strike or not. It’s safe to say it will never be the same even if it does make it.
The sapwood and bark literally exploded from the tree, and was scattered all around on the ground. Some of the pieces were nearly eight feet long, and several inches thick. They looked like giant slabs of rough, twisted lumber.
We were lucky the lightning didn’t strike on our side of the road. The outcome could have been a lot different. I’ve been through a couple of close lightning strikes before and they were expensive events, requiring replacement of all sort of electrical devices and appliances.
I know it’s the natural way of things for wind or lightning to take a giant tree, but it’s still sad to see it when it happens. I’m just thankful no one was hurt this time around. Except for the tree, of course.