As I write, nature is unleashing her power with rare ferocity as my neck of the woods experiences the latest phase of the storm called Irene. Appearing to be tracking northwest and toward upstate Vermont and the Adirondacks of New York, the storm is still wide enough to be expressing itself here in southwestern Maine via tossing trees and roaring wind. While I hope she remembers to practice wind economy, I am aware of what could happen were nature to vent her full fury upon this wooded place, a fact of which she is reminding me over and over again at the moment...
Such was my journal entry for Sunday, August 28, 2011. Craving a change of scenery and relief from the stale close indoor air, I went out to the potting shed at one point during the afternoon with my book and journal and sat awhile observing the storm from another angle. I realized quickly that this provided me with too alarming a production, and after seeing the trees dip down to the roof more times than I'd expected to, I went back inside and contented myself with a more narrowly framed view through a window. Once darkness settled, there wasn't much left to do without electricity but to light a few candles and, well, listen to the wind.
Earlier, around 10 a.m., I took a walk up and down the road and out through the woods to my neighbor's small pond. On the way back, I looked up and realized how close the trees hold me to them, evidenced by the branches that seem to hold my humble dwelling in a sort of embrace. A neighbor who occasionally flies over in his plane told me recently that he can no longer see the roof as it's now completely obliterated by the trees. While that did present me with a cause to fear during yesterday's storm, it seems that they did, after all, protect me. Most of the wind activity occurred in the outermost smaller trees, while the old nearby faithful oaks, pines and maples stood their ground, creating a barricade of sorts between the tempest and me. As low as a couple of them dipped at times, I just knew they would persevere.
What a welcome sight was the sunlight this morning after a long dark and uncertain night, as was feeling a wind that is now more friend again than foe. In my journal today, I will mention the sweet scent of the air at the height of the storm as the trees, their bark taxed to the extreme, exuded their fragrant sap at every turn. I'll devote a few lines to the sound of chainsaws in the distance as residents clean up and, in the process, benefit from debris left in the storm's wake that will warm both hearts and hearths in the cold months to come. And I will touch upon the frenzied dance the treetops did as they gave themselves totally over to the wind's lead. I notice quite a few leaves today dangling precariously from their stems, their bonds already weakened long before the trees are due to discard them. I wonder if this will hasten their fall and if I will see them turn crimson, orange and yellow sooner this year than they normally would. When I looked up into the maples in the back yard early this morning, it appeared that their topmost leaves have already started to wither and dry. Not surprising, considering what they endured yesterday.
There is laundry to hang out and plenty of kindling on the back porch to sweep into a pile. Here in the woods, one must wait till dawn to see the effects of a late night storm, and daylight now reveals the causes of some of the loud thumps I heard when there was no light to shed on them, larger branches that came to rest in odd positions against the porch railing, others piercing the earth where they fell. I look at them this morning and think of how much worse it could have been.
I will indulge today, too, in whimsical thinking, of how, because I insist on giving nature her due and never question her strength, she spares me time and time again. I will ponder, too, whether these trees and I have some sort of unspoken agreement whereby I afford them a slight edge by never tempting them to prove their might by falling on me. It's a delicate balance, this compromise between animal and plant, one of which I am reminded anew as the storm clouds part and the sun reappears.
Mere hours ago, this place was a dark maelstrom, and now, the sun-washed leaves float on the gentle air as though nothing had ever been amiss. Peace has returned once again to this green world, and though slightly altered for the experience, is yet still comfortingly familiar.