Monday, December 17, 2007

Hacked Within an Inch of its LIfe

Walter came home from the road to help. A guy with a chainsaw came by. We all worked and hacked and sawed and hauled branches around. The buzz of chainsaws and generators was everywhere, everywhere, endlessly. Power was off for a good month across the street; we got very lucky, being on the same grid as the fire station, and were switched on again after only eight days. But since most folks didn't get the juice back on for a very long time, the sound of generators went on forever.

Some of the mess has been cleared away, so here you can see how the queen palm split the trunk of the orchid tree right down the middle. Whatever was left above the split had to go: it's just not healthy wood. Some trees could come back on the split wood, but it would be more vulnerable to pests and disease there. It's not worth the risk to leave it on the tree.

Chainsaw Man has taken down the broken wood...

and all that's left is about five feet of trunk, with one large stub of a branch to the side.

I left a thin branch on it too, sticking up to the right. It looked silly. I did not care. It was a healthy piece and so it stayed.

But would it live?

Wilma struck October 24, 2005. By November 20, 2005, the orchid tree had made some leaves.

I tell you these things as if it's nothing. Our dead friend Burke's orchid, blooming instead of dying. This tree growing leaves.

For people numbed for weeks and months with shock, post traumatic stress on the face of everyone you see, working and straining, trying to figure out how to live without fuel or power or water, with everything you'd worked so hard for smashed, and the trees and flowers you nurtured and loved torn and twisted and dead, while we're fiercely determined to stay cheerful and work hard and remember how much worse it could be - To see these things, flowers blooming and leaves growing, it meant something to us.

It made us cry, over and over. Sad and glad. Surprised that something could make us feel anything at all any more. Stunned that we could feel a thrill of hope over something so insignificant as a flower and some leaves.

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