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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Trees in the storm

The day started with a chain saw. I thought after yesterday - our neighbor, having suffered a big downed birch a couple of months ago and two firs a couple of weeks ago, must have worried for her cottage and figured it was time to take down the two-and-a-half leaning spruces (one trunk had bifurcated), especially with today's northeaster forecast - that I'd be safe from chains and chippers for a while. But she must have promised the felled spruce as firewood, and a man and two boys were hard at work at 7:15, chunking up the trunks and loading them into a pickup. Even for Maine the scene was a bit surreal. All three males wore dark sweatshirts, hoods up, and they looked like hobbits on some secret mission, and the storm was starting, snow blowing, wind roaring, ocean boiling. And those two boys thought they were getting a snow day! Or maybe this is what a snow day in Maine is, just another chance to work with Dad.

Northeasters are a bit surreal themselves. You see the big swirling thing on the TV screen but you still don't quite understand how at the same time a storm can move to the northeast and the winds can come from the northeast. Yes, yes, the counterclockwise movement of the winds around the center makes some logical sense, but I like the mystery of it all, a sort of Tolkien storm.

Parts southwest and west of here are getting clobbered with two feet of snow, but the ocean keeps the temperature right at 32 degrees today, and most of the snow melts on the ground, leaving an inch or two of slush. The front of the house, however, wears a coat of white like icing on gingerbread, and the windows are mostly obscured by sticky snow that blows in horizontally, and the remaining trees are waving wildly and dangerously. I'm heartsick every time a tree has to come down, doubly so when it's a human decision, but on a blizzard day like today, even I have to admit that a spruce, even a magnificent one 75 feet high, does no one much good crashed into our living rooms.

In memoriam for the spruce, I'll grieve with the Christmas tree (fake) in the living room, unthreatened and still, unruffled and safe, and leave it up for a few more days.

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