Why did this happen? The tree seemed fine right up until that moment and it's been a good year for trees with plenty of rain.
First thing first. As it toppled the top branches snagged on Red Tip Photinia and the heavy tree trunk was hovering over the path to the gate so we needed to cut it down safely.
A little investigation of the remaining stump revealed that one side has rotted. On closer inspection there was charring at the break and a few more charred spots along the trunk. Lightning. Even though the live oak tree was very close to the house and it was not even the tallest tree among others nearby. Live oaks often grow sideways looking for light creating bends and crooks in their trunks. Lightning damage was most severe at the bend in the tree about six feet above ground, and that's where it broke off, apparently many months after the event.
A few more chainsaw cuts...which reveal the tree died on one side but not the other.
And it's off to the woodpile.
I'll miss it. In this before photo it's the tree to the left of the bench is now missing.
The area looks more open and more light gets through the office window. I'm not sure I like that. At this point it feels more like something is missing. Such a different view now.
Are you wondering what happened to the bench? A few days before the tree fell we moved it to protect newly planted sedge from deer, not as a place to sit. Deer love making tracks through soft new soil and uprooting new plants so this is just one of our tricks to protect plants.