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7:24 a.m. - 2010-02-28
Sadness for quiet friends gone.

Did anyone (in between earthquake reports, the Olympics, and Idol) hear about a snowstorm in the northeastern United States that dumped more than 4 feet of snow and left 100,000s of people without power? Yeah, that was us. Been there, done that. Power came back on late last night.

Three days. Three days of being in the cold and dark. And for the first two we couldn't escape even if we had someplace to go, we were trapped in by a huge tree across the foot of the driveway. The one across the driveway was just the most inconvenient, there are dozens of trees down in my yard. The big maple over the cars went in chunks and fortunately the guys were able to dig the cars out and get them moved far enough before most of the chunks came down. There's a pine laying across the outhouse. The smoke bush is lying in halves, the 100 year old arborvite hedgerow along the front of the yard between us and the road looks…exploded. It was a massive chunk of that which blocked the driveway. The dogwood is uprooted, as are the horse chestnut, one of the sycamores, and most of the pines out back and along the side yard between us and the Barkys. The worst for me is the magnolia. It's decimated. Huge, old, and graceful the magnolia is (was…oh god) in direct line of sight from my kitchen window, and it above all others was my friend.

In a perverse way, I was grateful for the power being out, kept me too busy to mourn for my trees. Trying to write about it now, I'm running tears and having to backspace a lot because my hands are shaking. With practical considerations like trying to keep warm, saving the rotting food, melting enough snow to flush the toilet, keeping the kid warm and calm, taking care of the freaked out dog, and somehow managing to keep Mick and the ex from coming to blows over how best to get the driveway clear, all while knotted up with cramps and literally being on the rag (yeah, the old dishtowel down my pants thing- no toilet or shower, remember…woo) it's been just a wee bit too hectic to do a lot of crying for my trees. Until now.

I've been trying to console myself with the knowledge that this is how Mother Nature cleans house. How the old are taken out to make way for the new, but this is kind of like saying I shouldn't have been upset when Gram died, now there was room in the world for a new baby.

A few of the trees that came down out back pre-date this house, which btw is having its 100th birthday this year in June, but most were planted just after WWII. Baby Boomer trees, specimen trees planted and nurtured by the house's original and longest tenant, Marie the botanist. Along with breeding daffodils, her thing was trees and this yard was her laboratory. Now maybe she was too much of a scientist to be terribly sentimental about the trees, but I have a feeling if she could see what's left of the grove she planted and nurtured for over 50 years, she'd be as brokenhearted as I am.

I've already told Mick if there needs to be pictures for the home owner's insurance that he'll have to take them. He patted me and said he understood, again like Gram, he likened it to those ghouls who took pictures of her in her coffin and video taped the funeral service. Anticipating chain saws to come, he also understood when I told him I will get gone when it's time to do the rest of the clean up. In calmer moments I've said glib things about putting in a boxwood hedge where the arborvite had been and a pair of mated cherry trees outside the kitchen window would be nice, without really acknowledging the magnolia will have to be cleared out first.

Am I grateful the house is still standing? All the people are safe? The power is back on and a long hot shower was the first order of business? That today I can do laundry and set the inside of my house in order? Of course. Sure I am. Was I glad that the gas rings could be lit with a match and the stove top still worked even with the electricity out? And that I could scoop up pots and pots of snow to have melt water for the barest necessities and even make tea? Yes, yes. That most of the food got into coolers or survived downstairs in the big freezer okay? Yeah. That the cars got out from beneath the crumbling broken maple with nary a scratch? That a kind neighbor came with a small bucket loader and helped get the driveway clear? That the ex owns a couple chain saws and knows how to use them? That Mick's back is so strong and he can shovel and shovel and shovel? Of course. I know how to count my blessings as good as anybody.

But, so many, many of the gorgeous trees which were my talismans, anchors, friends are gone. As I type this it's snowing again and I'm wearily wondering what else will come down now? Which ones that had escaped the last go-round, but are weakened and now with more snow piling on just won't make it?

Sad. Warm again, grateful for a lot, but sad. ~LA

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