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Monday, May 29, 2017

The Storm and its Aftermath

On May the 27th, two days ago, I had just finished putting the last touches on my video of the essay "Who Are the Flowers For?", when a terrible wind arose and felled one of our trees.

It did not happen that fast, of course. I noticed that the sky was getting stormy, so I went to look out through the glass of the front door. But Bow was very upset about the weather. So I went back in the pen with him.

Bow vocalized at the storm while it lasted, his hair standing on end, and afterwards, we groomed. And all was right with the world, except that one of the trees had been pulled up and thrown across the internal gravel road that leads from my house to the county road.

The tree that fell surprised me. It was not the tree I would have expected to fall.

The dead oak tree still stands

 In our front yard, we have a dead oak tree. It has been dying for years, and this year when spring came, not a single green leaf sprouted. People have been  telling me that I had better have it felled, or else one day a storm will bring it crashing down on the roof of my house. But that is not the tree that fell. The dead oak tree is still standing tall, and a smaller, younger, vitally alive poplar (or cottonwood) had been brought low in the prime of its life. Such is nature.

The next morning there was a power outage that lasted all day. Having nothing to do indoors, Bow and I went outside, he to the outer pen, and I for a walk. The strange weather brought out other animals from their usual places of hiding. I saw a snapping turtle nesting right in the open, where she could easily be spotted.

The mother snapping turtle had laid her eggs and was in the process of burying them.

I left her alone and proceeded on my walk toward the barn and the path that leads to my pasture. But before I got there, from a distance, I saw three round objects in the grass. At first I did not know what they were. Then it dawned on me that they were armadillos.

They kept rooting around, oblivious of my presence, until one of them stood up on its hind legs and started sniffing the air for clues of my presence.

They did not seem to see very well,  but soon another of them was standing up and sniffing.

Then the third armadillo also decided to sweep the air for clues of a strange presence.

For a moment, it looked as if they were planning to march away single file.

But instead, they scattered in all different directions. So I went on my walk along the path and checked on the milkweed plant, which unlike the felled poplar, was still standing, though it was bowed now and its stem was white with stains from its own milky sap. .

Nature is remorseless in its arbitrary choices, felling the young and the vital and overlooking the dead and dying. On the way back from the pasture I spotted the snapping turtle mother again. Having buried her nest of eggs, her maternal  duties were done, and she was off to do something else.

The storm had caused so much destruction. For others in more populated spots, it had not only felled trees but thrown buildings around. The power outage we suffered was as nothing to the much longer outages that others in our region had to go through. But the plus side of it all was that nature revealed itself to me yesterday. I got to see sights I'd never see if the storm had not brought out our most exotic looking wildlife from its hiding.

To top it all off, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail allowed me to get close enough to take see it in all its glory, even though its tail end was a bit damaged. Or more precisely, perhaps because it was damaged. It was able, however, to fly away afterwards.

Eventually my mowers came and cleared away the fallen tree. The power came back on, and we no longer had to sit indoors in the dark.

The road was littered with sawdust and with fresh green leaves from the tree.

If you'd care to count the rings, the age of the tree cut down in its prime will reveal itself. As for me and Bow, and the snapping turtles and the armadillos, life goes on.