The Writing and Musings of a Southern-Fried Earth Angel
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Flowers and Other Ephemeral Things
A quick walk through my new neighborhood yesterday confirmed two things. The dogwoods are done blooming and the woods on this 80-acre estate are thrashed. Just passing through, one might think that a drunken tornado took them out, but the handiwork is actually that of man. Well, man and the southern pine beetle, a scourge that kills an estimated $7.5 million worth of trees every year.
Our mountain cabin, once surrounded and shaded by trees, is denuded and the newly revealed front yard is littered with dead limbs and fallen waste. The young dogwood at the end of the drive is battered, its top gone, broken limbs hanging, limp and dying.
I watched on Friday as they took down a pine and a few hardwoods directly behind and to the side of me. The targeted trees were too close and a perceived threat to the cabin. Jeff, the man wielding the chainsaw was fleet and fearless, his son, Todd, the Cat Skidsteer operator, solid and methodical.
I, on the other hand, fled inside more than once; first when I envisioned the whining chainsaw slicing off Jeff's foot, and again when I peered over the railing at the exact moment Jeff felled the towering pine. Yes, folks, I ran like a trepidatious voyeur.
After they left and quiet had descended once more upon the woods, I sat in a chair on the deck and surveyed my new domain. We're lucky. Since the tornado was specifically culling beetle-ridden pines, and the forest behind me is all hardwoods, our view from the deck is mostly intact. I did mourn, however, the dogwood that was crushed as a 60-foot chestnut oak crashed down. It was literally ripped out of the ground, roots and all, along with a wild pink azalea in full bloom. I noticed that a couple of the nearby trees were also chestnut oaks and their leaves hung lifeless in the afternoon sun, as if somehow affected by the passing of the once-great oak. I wondered if they wept for their lost kin. Or were they sprung up from the mighty oak's own root system and directly affected by its passing?
Limbs of nearby maples were broken and hanging, caught by the oak tree as it crashed to the ground. I couldn't help but relate to these trees, many of whom would live longer than I. Do they feel? Do they mourn? Do they cry?
I think yes. Of course. Why not? They live. They breathe. They get sick. They break. They die. They also mend, as long as the wound is not mortal. They wall off the hurt or diseased part. And grow around it.
As do we. When a careless friend or loved one lops off our pride, or self-esteem, or our ability to love, when our detacher is broken, or our trust or belief is injured we dust ourselves off and lash up the wound to still the spurting blood. Then we go about the business of getting on with life. Most of us are hale and hearty and have an infinite ability to heal. There is the old saw, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Really, Nietzsche? Really??
Okay, yes. Yes it does. We survive. Like the flower, these and much more in life is fleeting, ephemeral. Here today, gone tomorrow.
I am reminded of one of my teachers at Life Chiropractic College. His favorite, and famous (at the school), saying was, "Thank God the body heals itself!" Which was my thought after being the recipient of one of his 'million dollar roll' manipulations. I say, "Thank God the psyche heals itself!"
As always, seeming-tragedies leave miracles in their wake. While I will miss those beautiful trees and the shade they provided, we now have enough space and sun for a garden. I'll be away for the weekend, but knowing Randy, he'll be out there building terraces and tilling ground. And, with the pines all gone we can landscape the space with sun-loving herbs and flowers.
Pictures from top to bottom: cleared area of Stonewood Village; Jeff pausing the talk to Todd before connecting the cable to take down the 60' chestnut oak (Pat, the owner is looking on); the dogwood and wild azalea before the oak squashed them to nothing; front of cabin before it was cleared; front of the cabin after clearing