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Uncommon tree breaks in storm

By Nick Zacharias



PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS

Homeowner Mark Francis, holding his rescue dog Arthur, had a lucky escape during the thunderstorm the evening of July 20 as the 30+ foot Kentucky coffee-tree in his front yard lost a massive bough which narrowly missed his car and his neighbour’s house.


A brief but violent storm descended on the region the night of July 20, leaving a distinct calling card on at least one front yard in Hudson. Mark Francis, who’s lived at the charming house on McNaughten for seven years, was shocked by the sudden damage visited upon the massive and unusual tree that dominates his front yard.

No one injured

Francis was away from the house when it happened. “I hadn’t been away from home, basically anywhere, for 15 months. I really haven’t gone out at all since COVID,” he said. When he got an invitation to visit a friend, his wife encouraged him to go for it. “So we were outside under the porch roof, just watching and saying what an impressive storm it is. Then my phone starts ringing and it’s my wife calling from home to tell me this happened,” he said, waving his arms and gesturing at the destruction around him.

“Luckily,” said Francis, “nobody was hurt.”

Sheer luck

By the size of the trunk that sheared off, arching over nearly the whole front yard, the fact that no greater damage was done makes it seem some good fortune was at work.

“I’m sad about the tree, but it’s crazy in a way how lucky it was,” said Francis. “It went right over top of the car that was parked in the driveway but it didn’t even really damage it. There might be some little scratches but that’s it.” The trunk also managed to miss both the owner’s house and that of the next-door neighbour, settling instead partly on a hedge between the two and partly on some sturdy legs made up of its own branches (one of which somehow landed spryly the recycling bin).

Said Francis, “I was out this morning checking out what happened. Some guys passed by in a fire truck, and they stopped to have a look. They recommended I report it to the town before I do anything else, so I did that and they said they’re going to send someone out today to see what should be done.” While waiting for that to happen, the situation appears messy but stable. “We didn’t even lose our power line. The only thing that went out was cable.”

Much loved tree

It’s a big, attention-getting tree. Said Francis, “We’ve been here for years and we actually only just learned what type of tree it is. Someone told me it looked like an old Kentucky coffee-tree, and I looked it up on Wikipedia and sure enough that’s what it is.” He said they’d often wondered because so many people stop by to admire the impressive giant in the heart of Hudson village close to Main Road, frequently taking pictures and complimenting them on its majesty. A quick internet search reveals the species has the unusual trait of possessing leaves that track the movement of light during the day like Sunflowers do, and is in some jeopardy due to the slow nature of its reproduction.

About a third of the tree came down in the storm. Said Francis, “We’re hoping the rest of it can be saved, but it’s looking pretty rotten on the inside where it broke off. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”