Okay, so the move out of the gallery was slightly delayed due to unavoidable issues last week, but the leasing manager was willing to accommodate an additional week. Several potential buyers of the few remaining enclosures just needed a few extra days to come out and pick up their purchases, they said, before they ghosted. No big deal, I thought: let’s just sell what’s left on Facebook Marketplace and maybe move a few into the greenhouse at home. As for the greenhouse itself, while the Triffid Ranch was ending, it would be perfect for raising hot peppers, vanilla orchids, and maybe the occasional Nepenthes. Not a big deal, right?
Well, somebody had other plans. The National Weather Service predicted all day the possibility of severe weather in the Dallas area, including the possibility of hurricane-force winds. Most of the time, these storms break up when heading east after they hit Fort Worth, but this one was special. First, the tornado alert sirens through Garland, Richardson, and Plano all started going off, and then the clouds rolled in. When this happens in daytime, the skies go a Coke-bottle green from atmospheric dust blown in advance of the front. This one had so much dust that the lightning strikes on the edge of the front went a brilliant peridot green, something I hadn’t seen since a similar storm in 1982. Then the wind hit.
For most storms, the greenhouse was protected both by the angle at which the storms hit and by the bulk of the house. This beast hit different, as judged by the amount of detritus and occasional roof shingle caught in the wind. The greenhouse looked as if it were going to be a little shaken but otherwise fine, and then one big gust blew off a front panel that had been well-secured with greenhouse tape just a couple of days before. That flew, and then the whole thing broke off the foundation, tumbled a bit, and attempted to chase the shingles blowing down the alley. The only thing keeping it from becoming a problem for the neighbors was a crape myrtle tree at the corner. It then crumpled and imploded on itself from the force of the wind. The crape myrtle held both the frame and the polycarbonate panels, preventing them from becoming a threat to others, until the storm finally settled a bit.
When things were safe enough for an initial inspection, it was pretty obvious that it would need a bit more than a touch of duct tape. The main structural elements were bent beyond repair, the foundation was ripped, and the whole thing was an utter loss. The only thing to do at that point was to wait until morning and see what remained.
In daylight, the damage was even worse than feared. The wreckage is going to make one of Garland’s scrap yards very happy, as it’s all perfectly good salvageable aluminum, but it’s not good for anything else. Considering that this is now the second of two catastrophic storms coming through the area, the first one being last September, and getting a new one might be folly.
But you know what? It all worked out. Had the Triffid Ranch continued and I started to get ready for the spring show season, that greenhouse would have been full of young plants at the time it tried to fly back to Oz (or, more likely based on the difficulty of the installation instructions, Lankhmar), and the loss would have been total. The cost of a greenhouse replacement would have been one additional expense on top of the gallery rent increase, and its installation would have taken time away from preparing for upcoming shows. If this was a sacrifice to the Lords of Chaos in exchange for the rest of the year being mellow and uneventful, then let them have it and their laugh.
And so it ends. No GoFundMe or small business loans to rebuild: if anything, any last-minute attempt to go back and restart the Triffid Ranch is now impossible. If you feel sympathy and want to help, come out to the gallery on Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4 to buy up the last fragments of Triffid Ranch inventory and make offers on the shelves and other furniture. I’ll be there both days from noon until 8:00 pm or when everything is gone. (The big workbenches out in the front are already claimed, but I still have the big Lundia and Skandia shelves that have to come down, and I’d rather have them go to good homes for someone starting their own new businesses.) And most of all, LAUGH. It can’t be that bad, right?