Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Memorial to the Trees

We are still without power. Fourth day. Mommy Nature came through our neighborhood and lifted ancient trees throwing root balls and sections of sidewalk up onto lawns and across streets. She threw other trees over power lines and into houses.
Crowds of neighbors stand in clumps, talking. They wear shorts and t-shirts. If they were all in black it would be like witnessing a crowded funeral home during visitation hours. The bodies of beloved trees laid out across their lawns. There is sorrow.
We walked the block taking pictures so I could show you, memorializing the trees. We pass people walking. Their faces grim, hurting. “Hi, how are you?” “Sad.” There is sorrow.
In “The Wild Trees” Richard Preston writes about a named redwood, Telperion, that fell in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It's root mass was about 30 feet in the air. It's trunk 16 feet in diameter. It was longer than a football field. People brought it flowers and laid them beside it’s prostrate trunk. 
I think it was a thousand year old tree. Think what it had lived through. Some of the trees that came down in our neighborhood could have been a hundred years old. Acorns in 1911.

Big old trees clean the air. They keep us alive. We should honor them.

The tree is cut up but the roof is smashed

This neighbor lost 15 trees

This pine is draped across two yards.

Today there were 5 new telephone poles at the side of Ridge Road,
that tells me that we will be without power still longer.  

When we take our morning walks down these shady streets, now the sun will break through and scorch the sidewalks and blister the hostas and other shade loving plants in the gardens.
Kim (my pal since we were seven) told me that she wasn’t home when the storm hit, but her neighbor said that the temperature dropped 20 degrees and the sky turned pea green. Then the hail crashed against the windows. Note: This is third hand information.
Just last week my daughter, Sue and I were saying how lucky we were to live here In Southeast Michigan. We have never had a hurricane wash across the land. Earthquakes? There have been tremors only twice in my memory. We have never had 120 degree weather, although, it got pretty damn hot in July as evidenced by a past post. And tornadoes are actually pretty rare here.
Last year other old trees were toppled in the same area that received the most damage this weekend. Lynn, my immunologist’s nurse, lives a couple blocks away. Her son’s car was flattened by a falling tree in last years storm. Once again her block has been drastically pruned.

But what about places with much more damage than we have? What about the flooded towns and washed out roads in Vermont and all along the Eastern coast?
House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, said in the wake of Hurricane Irene, that any aid should require equal cuts in spending. You know he’s aiming his gun at Social Security and Medicare. In other words the bribe is “We’ll create disasters for old people, before we’ll help with disaster relief from Irene”. He has since recanted his taped interview, and says he never said what he actually said on tape.
What ever happened to “Compassionate Conservatives”? I guess that was just a slogan they don’t use anymore.

Since posting, I've learned that insurance DOES NOT cover fallen trees. It only covers the car or house that gets whacked. The city as applied for disaster relief.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Saturday night we were 45 minutes away from home enjoying a wonderful dinner with our friends Alex and Diane Shirshun. Delicious risotto, chicken with mushrooms, zucchini, corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes and a delicious salad. We ate on their screened porch looking out over a calm zen-like  garden to the lake beyond. 
We were eating ice cream when the thunder and lightning started. The sky went wild with flashes. White lines slammed through the black sky and the mirroring lake flashed white.
As we drove home the angry sky seemed calmer. A few bolts here and there. Some rain. Not terrible. Not what I was expecting.
And finally we were almost home, we turned down our street into blackness. No street lights. No neighbors TV’s coloring their windows. Branches crunched under our tires. We came into our house. Blind people feeling our way through the hall to the basement stairs where we keep two camping lanterns I bought when we used to do art fairs. 
We are without power. 

Sunday afternoon my son Jim came over with his brand new generator, and Bonnie brought a full carafe of hot coffee. Coffee, Yes! I kissed her. They help me move food to the basement freezer and ancient second refrigerator, where it will be easier to plug in the long extension cord from the generator.
As we go down the stairs into the dark basement I lead the way with the lanterns. And when we come back up I switch off the light switch on the wall. We all keep flicking switches when we leave a room. Habits. We are used to having power.
“The Power of the Pen” they say, but I write on the computer. My Mac Book has just 16% of it’s battery power left. The little icon has turned red. I’ve never seen it red before. I have to write fast. Without power I have no internet. I will have to go out to someplace with WIFI to post this story.
On this Labor Day Holiday the power company people are hard at work, no day off. And every tree company in the county has men at work cleaning up the fallen trees. 
Tomorrow I will write another post. There is more, tomorrow is the sad stuff.
And don’t worry, I’m not going to inundate you. Tomorrow’s story. Then you get at least a couple weeks reprieve.