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Illusion of Safety, Illusion of Control


Late last night, after hours at home, my husband Bob pushed aside the edge of a curtain to turn off an outdoor light and found the view blocked by a close-up of branches and leaves.  All he said to me, flopped on the sofa a few feet away, was, "Come over here."  But there was a puzzling tone to his voice.  I got up and looked.

It takes moments for surprise to register:  leaves…branches…two huge trunks…tree fell.  When?  We'd heard nothing.  Nothing's punched through.  Log walls still standing.  Must have happened before we got here.  Right over my reading spot.  I've sat under the crashed tree much of the evening, reading a book titled, as it happens, Imagine.

There hadn't even been a storm.  But apparently, the mighty tree's roots had let go of the much-rained-on wet soil.  The upper half of the root ball is about my height.

This morning I shot pictures.  Only visible damage is the destroyed section of gutter. 

At least one invisible change: my routine assumption about what things move and what things don't is gone again.  My snug reading corner with its sprinkle of crumbs and snack wrappers?  Well, it might as well have been on a highway traffic island with close calls whizzing past.

As Rajiv Gandhi once said (in an altogether different context), "When a great tree falls, the earth trembles."

And we're expecting visitors from England tomorrow.  They've never been to our house and I warned them to expect rusticity and large dogs.  I didn't warn them about this.  Oh, well.

Aside from the inconvenience and expense and loss of the particular beauty of a tree, I do find the surprise of it bracing.  It's good to be aware that there's no real safety anywhere.  Keeps one from having to scramble for it. 

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  • Christina Askounis
    October 2, 2012 at 10:05 am Reply

    Wow! What a story! It’s like a fable, right down to the title of the book you were reading.

    Glad you’re O.K. I’ve always admired Alan Watts’s The Wisdom of Insecurity. Hard principle to live by, though, when eons of evolutionary experience has hard-wired us to put safety first.

    • October 2, 2012 at 10:24 am Reply

      A blog that’s a fable is a: fog? Thanks, Christina. I too like the Watts book. And its wisdom never does stick very long.

  • October 2, 2012 at 10:09 am Reply

    Wow, Peggy – that is a HUGE tree! I'm glad there was no extensive damage. Since moving here where we heat the house with our woodstove, there is now always an upside to losing a tree. Firewood and warmth on cold nights. Maybe this tree can do the same for you and Bob. (and the very large dogs!)

    • October 2, 2012 at 10:23 am Reply

      I’m impressed you’re heating with wood, Billie.

  • aiki
    October 4, 2012 at 8:24 am Reply

    Glad you shared pix –I hope removing the tree doesn't reveal hidden damage!
    Maybe your insurance'll help w/ removal/loss/?damage expense ?  
      Old Chinese proverb  "Plan for a thousand years, & Death laughs"  Aiki

    • October 4, 2012 at 8:32 am Reply

      I have high hopes for insurance, Aiki.

  • October 5, 2012 at 1:42 am Reply

    Peggy, I'm so glad you're all right.  Something similar happened to my son a few years back — except that they have a breakfast room surrounded by huge windows.  The tree fell from the woods in the back of their yard, with the trunk spanning the whole yard and the branches ending literally inches from the window.  It happened during a storm, terrorized the kids, took down part of the railing on the back deck — but no damage to the inside of the house.  You and your friends from England will have a lot to talk about.

    • October 5, 2012 at 10:17 am Reply

      Ellyn, they actually saw it fall? That would get my attention even more. And yes, the guests did find the tree on the house of interest. We sat at the other end of the room, not in the area underneath the tree.

  • October 5, 2012 at 4:23 am Reply

    Well. . .when you live in the woods you get the trees, right?  Some stand forever, others drop in unexpectedly.
    I have chain saws and other felling gear galore–let me know if you'd like help clearing it out.

    • October 5, 2012 at 10:18 am Reply

      Good attitude, Temple. And thanks.

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