I’ve somehow not really found the time to blog much this summer and autumn, but I wanted to share this with you guys. The Flâneur Gardener is still here, but the garden is in serious trouble.
We had a fairly bit storm at the end of October which knocked down three trees, but those trees were scheduled to be felled anyway, so we were just happy they fell the right way and didn’t hit the house. And everything else was more or less all right except a knocked-over fence by the entrance to the garden.
Then came Bodil. The storm in October, Allan, reached all-time record wind speeds for Denmark, but Bodil was almost as hard and whereas Allan lasted a few hours, Bodil lasted 24 hours and blew from a direction that forced lots and lots of water from the North Sea into the internal Danish waters, including Roskilde Fjord 200 yards from our holiday home and the Flâneur Garden.
Another three trees went down, but that’s not a problem. They, too, were scheduled to be felled. But this is a picture of Sunday morning, and the storm was on Thursday-Friday and the dike was surpassed on Friday evening. Sunday morning we had a good foot of water around the house, and deeper in other parts of the garden, but from the marks on the house it’s clear the water was 3-4′ around the house at it’s worst.
The garden has been flooded before, but a) that was rain water, b) that was before we installed the drain and c) it never reached the base of the house. This time, though, it’s sea water, and I’m dreading what the salt will do to the plants. Basically, everything I’ve planted over the past 3½ years is in danger. Everything I did since we bought the garden and I started this blog. It’s heart-wrenching, really. But regardless of the effect on the garden we can get it back in order somehow. Some day.
At least there will be very few killer slugs next year!
The house, though…
I can start over with the garden even if nothing survives (and something WILL survive, I’m sure), but the house… I love that little wooden house; it’s the best place in the world to sit and do absolutely nothing. It’s taken quite a beating. There has been close to 2′ of water inside, the furniture is all over the place – and wet – and there’s a brown slush covering every surface the water reached. Heck, even the fridge keeled over…
Everything is wet and dirty. And it will remain wet until they get the power supply for the area back up. Then I can start testing to see if the heating works and can help dry out the place, and then I can get some dehumidifiers in place and generally do some damage control.
The floor in the bedroom has already buckled beyond repair, so that needs to be changed. The floor in the sitting room is made of sturdier wood so it might survive – or it might buckle when it dries.
I literally cried when I entered the house and saw what it looked like. So much is beyond salvage, and so much is only potentially salvageable. I cried, then I climbed over the fridge into the kitchen, poured myself a rather-too-large 16-year-old whiskey (sorry, Flâneur Husband…) and downed it in one gulp. And then I picked up the photo of my great-grandmother that was lying on the floor, pulled myself together and started wrestling the photo album out of the bookcase where the books were almost glued together.
I never hurt a book. I love them. But it was a photo album created by friends for the Flâneur Husband when he was moving to Scotland just after we bought the summer house, and for it’s sake I literally tore up the books around it. A picture speaks more than a thousand words, right? Even if those words ARE from the pen of Edgar Alan Poe, Oscar Wilde et al.
The album was ruined, but the individual photos were, when I came back to Copenhagen and pealed apart the album, all right and just needed to dry out, and this is where under-floor heating comes in handy…
I filled the bathroom floor with photos four times, leaving each “batch” to dry for 20 minutes and then removing them to the floor of the library and dining room for final drying and it worked. They are all all right, though all are completely buckled. A new album will be made of them.
Oh, but the house. And the garden. And the roses. And the cute old arm chair that came with the house. And the beds. And the bed linen I bought in London in 2003 when I had just gotten dumped and thought that if I couldn’t sleep with a boyfriend at least I could sleep with a high thread-count. And the tweed blazer I wore in a blizzard on the Lake District Fells in England and on the fells around Nuuk in Greenland. And the T-shirt I used to look really hot in before I grew too old for that to be dignified and age-appropriate attire. And the compost heap. And the roses. And the perennials from my grandmother’s garden. And all the other stuff.
Even my kayak sank in the mix of storm and flooding.
What you can’t see is that there was actually ice on the water, but a man has got to do what a man has got to do, and you can’t save a kayak without getting your hands wet. It has suffered no visible damage, which is great news as this was my wedding present from the Flâneur Husband. That makes it irreplaceable.
We are hoping – and actually believing – the house can be saved if we just turn the heating all the way up and get some dehumidifiers going. The annex might be more tricky; it’s harder to heat and it will be very hard to get the construction dry, and any way it’s an older construction than the main house and made of poorer wood. I will try, though. I will goddamnit do my best for every thing – living or material – on the plot.
Oh, yes… Small detail… The Flâneur Husband was offered a short-term assignment in Houston, so he moved to Texas on November 1st and will move home at the end of July 2014. He will be home for two weeks over Christmas, but other than that I’m on my own with this project. (Hence the frequent use of “I” in this post. I swear I’m not just being egocentric, but my husband simply hasn’t been to the house yet.
But… One book had been carelessly and messily left on top of a cupboard.
I’m just so grateful that something like this has happened to our holiday home and not our regular home. Granted, it would take quite a surge to flood a 4th-floor apartment, but you know what I mean. So many people lost so much more.
Mind you, this is Denmark. Your regular house insurance won’t cover you in a force majeure situation like this, which is why there’s a government insurance scheme that everybody with a fire insurance on any building is covered by. People might have lost all their possesions, but at least they will get some sort of compensation so they won’t be destitute.
We, too, will get some sort of insurance pay-out to cover the damage. We won’t know how much for quite a while, but it will at least be quite a good help. And we can manage. This is a holiday home, after all, so we don’t need to find temporary housing or buy everything from scratch.
I just wish they would get the power back on up there so I could DO something. Without power I can’t turn on the heating, without heating I can’t dry anything, without drying anything the house and the stuff inside is just going to deteriorate. The power should be on tomorrow, though, so tomorrow after work I will travel 2 hours to get up there, battle to get the heating working and then travel 2 hours back, because the house won’t be fit for staying the night for a while.
All right, so I cried a little writing this post. It’s hard to see those photos. But I cry for two minutes and then the world moves on. And I move on with it, as is proper and fitting. It doesn’t ruin everything, but it IS a bloody nuisance.