After Irene, the stand of white pines behind the house was diminished. Amazingly, the trees fell away from the house, with a sound like a solid door slamming hard.
We had wondered at first, when the World Trade Center collapsed, if Tower 1 had toppled over to the north whether it would have hit us on Greenwich St. Later calculating the height and the distance, we knew we would have been safe. But had the pines fallen west rather than east, they could have cleaved the house open.
In the woods, Irene created the type of confusion that other storms have caused: limbs fallen, crowns torn off, trunks cracked through or partially through, trees heaved out of the ground but with their falls broken by other trees. (“Widow-makers,” Dave had called them, after another storm, advising not to try to cut them down.)
What was new were the two trees that fell, peeling the bank up from the stream. It’s strangely beautiful.
The grand trunk of a standing but dead maple near the stream gave up six feet of what remained of its forked top, the winds slamming it into the ground, vertical but upside down, an accidental sculpture, a less geometric Joel Shapiro. It still stands.
While I mourn my giant white pines, the pitiful, pitiless, infintely ideological Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, plays a perverse “Let’s Make a Deal,” trying to withhold aid to those devasted by Irene (and hurt by the eartquake, whose epicenter was in his home district) as a means to forward the radical far-right agenda. Would you trade assistance for your town for giant cuts in Medicare? Medicaid? For discontinuation of school lunches for poor children? Libertarian Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), who rarely identifies a function he thinks should be performed by the federal government, points thumbs down on allocating funds as areas of the Catskills and Vermont are swept away.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a sane man, on TV earlier this week with his hair appropriately on fire, decries the lack of morality in the Republican House caucus and reminds us we’re one nation.
Other Koch-addicted Republicans want to gut the EPA. And want to eliminate the earned income tax credit , forgetting that it was a hallmark of the administration of Ronald Reagan, saying that it’s not the super rich and the corporations that aren’t sacrificing for the common good, rather it’s the poor and the working class who aren’t paying thier fair share and therefore, “have no skin in the game.”
The violence of nature, however cruel, is random. But our country is far from out of the woods and the brutal storm in our government continues to rage.