Just talk about trees

Birch and pine took the hardest hits from the ice storm of ’14. The frail, sensitive poet and the burly shop teacher in need of a shave hardly spoke before the storm and now they lay side by side on the ground and tumble together in the chipper.

Disaster, the great unifier.

Ice fell evenly from the sky, but some lost a disproportionate share of trees. Others were mysteriously spared, or at least it looks that way to someone just passing through. For every lawn covered in massive branches and entire trunks, there’s one to the side littered only with tidy snow patches. But if you look around, you might notice the white meat of snapped limbs or stumps where great trees once stood.

Some people just tend to their messes quicker.

The trees that huddled together in groves weathered the ice storm the best. It’s possible the ones in the center thought it was only rain and never felt the ice thicken and weigh down and snap.

It’s no guarantee, but there’s safety in numbers.

Of two trees that stand alone in our front yard, the japanese maple came out unscathed while the silver maple shed branches we will still be picking up next spring. Maybe some trees were healthier in ways we couldn’t see or they were pruned carefully over the years or sat closer to a stream during drought.

Resilience and strength aren’t visible from the outside.

The aftermath from the ice storm looks like Nature’s spring clean. She culled and cleared one day when she was in a terrible mood and then said “here, clean this up. I’m going to take a nap.” I guess it was better than forest fire or flood.

Even if it’s a plan I don’t understand, new opportunities come from loss.

It doesn’t do any good to guess why this tree and not that one or second-guess what we should have been doing all along to prepare. What’s done is done and now its time to walk around the yard and pick up branches and then turn around and notice a dozen more we missed.

Eventually we’ll amass a great pile and the sloppy, mossy ground will support new growth and we’ll all treat our trees with more reverence for at least a full cycle of seasons.


Note: Later this week, in time to welcome Spring, look for a guest post by Whistler, who celebrates 1.5 years sober. 

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