Wraaaahh! Whruummmm! Chain saw in the distance. Which direction? Maybe more than one. Every day the chain saws and the grinding. Still cleaning up the mess. From the looks of it, they will never get finished.
It was one hell of a Halloween trick in October of 2012. Superstorm Sandy came ashore in New Jersey and then pummeled the entire East Coast. The chain saws I hear are those in a small area of Pennsylvania near my parent’s house. The landscape of their property is greatly changed as I view it five months later.
There are empty spots where trees used to line the front walkway. A new pile of cut up wood in the barn. But mostly there are dozens of trees fallen and broken, lying on the ground and atop one another. What used to be a neat wooded area of apple and maple and oak trees now looks like someone took the contents of several dozen log trucks and dumped them at random in this area. An impenetrable jumbled mess.
Maybe if I could rent a chain saw, and a log splitter, and a commercial grade tree mulcher and worked eight hours a day for a month I could clear this area. Less than twenty percent of their property. Certainly within six months… maybe. Wait a minute. I don’t live in Pennsylvania, I’m visiting for a weekend. And I have a job I have to go to. Damn. It will never get done.
There is one sign of progress in the yard. Where the walkway meets he driveway, where there used to be two towering fir trees, there is now a nice area of thick mulch. Freshly ground fir trees from the looks of it. Hmmmm.
I see these piles of mulch everywhere. Every home seems to have one in their yard. Some are the remnants of a single tree. Others look like a dump truck load, like I used to have to pay for to landscape my yard. And in still other places there are piles that look as if they were left by the trainload. I see a house where the entire yard is nothing but mulch.
And yet each home also still has piles of fallen trees. These aren’t dainty and petite trees. They are fifty-foot tall trees with hundreds if not thousands of branches. Six inches, a foot, two and three feet in diameter. Big ass trees. Really big! There are undeveloped tracts of wooded space where no work has been done. Trees, trees and more trees on the ground. As if a tornado had gone through and flattened everything. Most visible as you look at the hillsides.
My dad told me the neighbors had thirty trees knocked down, neatly, like soldiers marching in rank felled simultaneously. They were gone now, and a vast emptiness had replaced them. It will take years for new trees to grow back and fill the voids. It will take years to clean up the now dead trees. If we wait long enough they may rot before they can be cut up.
And what of the environmental impact? Thousands of photosynthesizers no longer at work. More carbon dioxide into the environment, less oxygen. Increased global warming? Not to mention the problems associated with increased water runoff and soil erosion.
It took a long time to create the trees, but only a few moments to take them away. It’s a sad sight. If this is what has happened here, I can only imagine the damage caused over the entire area of the East Coast. It will take forever to clean it up. I need to get started.
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