Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tree Trouble

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a three day writing conference in Cuyahoga Valley National Park called the Language of Nature. It was sponsored by the Environmental Education Council of Ohio. We stayed at the Stanford Hostel, a really cool farmhouse built in about 1830, restored and converted to the Hostel in the 1980's. The weather for this event was hot and humid and on the second evening a cool front blew in while we were getting ready for dinner. The leading edge of the storm was rather typical. It got dark rather suddenly and an initial burst of wind heralded the storm. The gusts were probably in the range of 40 to 50 mph or so, very common around here. What was unusual was that those of us who happened to be watching the storm approach through the front windows suddenly saw the better part of a TREE coming at the house. My first thought was TORNADO. Just as I was about to hit the deck, I realized that if I was still standing and the house was still standing, it was not a tornado. This moment was shared by a buddy of mine who was an instructor in the program, Dawson. The tree, pictured above, was simply waiting for the right angle of wind to complete a trimming. The huge maple with a divided trunk had been attacked at its core by insects and the longstanding process completed itself in this particular storm. The top grazed the house and casused some damage. A woman had been sitting on a bunk in the corner room and it would have been worse had the tree made a more direct hit. As you can see, the forked trunk neatly framed the corner of the house with this minor damage instead of a catastrophe had it been a direct hit. We enjoyed our dinner by lantern, went for a hike in the fresh aftermath of the storm at a ledges area and did some outdoor writing. My journal has a few splotched pages from occasional drops from the still wet trees. The Institute was a great way to spend a few hot Ohio days: enjoying the Park, the wildlife, the scenery and the company of educators concerned about environmental ethics.

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