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A Portent Followed by Two Weeks of Coming True - nhpeacenik
A Portent Followed by Two Weeks of Coming True
The weather map on the computer showed a solid mass of dark red, representing an ice-storm, and the National Weather Service radio spoke in the voice of a female robot, warning that there might be an inch or more of ice on branches in the Monadnock Region (which is approximately where we live), and that widespread power outages could be expected, but it was about eleven o'clock and I was still online, and I tried to convince myself that this would not be as bad as it looked. I left a status update on a social networking site and went upstairs to turn on the floodlight and see the incipient precipitation for myself. It did look like rain rather than sleet... one weather forecast had mentioned that there might be sleet instead of  the dreaded ice-forming freexzing rain, but no such luck was to be ours. I went downstairs and opened the front door to feel the falling rain. Suddenly, a tiny shadow moved across my hand. I looked up to see, not one, but two flying squirrels glide almost horizontally from the fourth floor of the house to the large oak tree about 25 feet away. My immediate thought was "rats deserting a sinking ship", that the house was doomed. Then I watched as they each came to a secure landing on the far side of the tree trunk. about ten vertical feet apart. I was overwhelmed with a sense that I had been blessed with the sight of something hidden made maifest for a few seconds.

I told Denise about the flying squirrels, and she mentioned rats, too. We decided to sleep on a pallet by the woodstove rather than risk being upstairs if a tree hit the house. Then the lights went out. As the night went on, we heard the cracking of trees and branches as they fell all around us. I began to tremble uncontrollably, but Denise seemed to be taking the situation more calmly. I kept pulling out my flashlight and reading a few paragraphs of Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth", which turned out to be exactly the right book to be reading.

Denise mentioned that this might be something like spending the night in the Underground during the London Blitz. I thought of the Baghdad Shock and Awe and what it must have been like to be an ordinary Iraqi that night.This seemed to be a war, but it wasn't a human enemy that was doing this to us... or was it? Later, the governor and the electric company president would appear again  and again on the radio talk shows scratching their heads and saying that this was ten times as damaging, ten times as widespread as anything in history, but holding back from the possibly -paranoid conclusion that this was a manifestaion of global warming.

The next morning, I guess we were fortunate that our nearest neighbor was in the construction business and was able to bring in bulldozers and loaders to clear the road of the hundreds of branches and fallen limbs. Each time I walked out into that bright morning, I saw and heard more trees coming down. One odd phenomenon I noticed was that many treetops had been sheered off, leaving a blossom-shaped scar at the top of the trunk. There had been almost no wind, and the trees had fallen in arbitrary directions under the immense weight of the inch-thick ice, as if a giant hand had pushed them straight down until they splintered at their weakest point.

By Friday afternoon, I was able to drive out in search of a working telephone. I wound my way down Pleasant Street, dodging low wires, ducking under partially-fallen oaks and maples and driving over countless downed wires. Pleasant Street was closed later that day, due to some of those partially-fallen trees falliing a little more. All the trees and bushes retained their coating of ice and remained objectively beautiful and also deadly. I found a working payphone in the Pakistani-run convenience store, which the owner was heroically and kindly keeping open even though the only light was daylight and the only heat was body-heat. Some of my neighbors were out walking in the farm fields by the orchard when I returned. They pointed out that the apple trees, which had been pruned, were intact, while the wild trees and bushes a the edge of the field were all broken.

That night, with no lights but candles and lanternsin the house, Denise and I gazed out the large living room window on a sight that took our breath away. The full moon, behind the severely-wounded large pine tree that we call "The Family Tree" emerged from behind a ragged black cloud and shed white rays on the bejewelled treetops, turning the pearls and diamonds of ice into irridescent Christmas-tree lights. The trees in the foreground were in shadow, and their drooping, jewel-laden forms contrasted with the illuminated trees behind in a way that affected me in the very center of my being. The sight was three-dimensional to the point of being psychedelic.

I made it to the Peace Vigil in Peterborough on Saturday, where a "Festival of Trees" had been scheduled. The entire town was without electricity, and the trees were splintered. In the Historical Society courtyard stood five trees that had been set up for the festival. Four of them were smashed to the ground, but one, decorated with German-style wooden ornaments, stood upright. What sort of supernatural force could have been behind these layers of irony?

I can't begin to detail all the events of the last two weeks, but they have been an experience of  alternating bouts of pure Being and insane emotional turmoil. We now have a cell-phone and have learned to manipulate its tiny controls out of sheer necessity; our "land-line" phone and internet connection will not be restored until sometime after Christmas. Denise's birthday was surely one of the most memorable she has ever had, though short on ceremony. There has been live music and the company of friends and neighbors, but important scheduled events have fallen by the wayside as storm after storm passed through.

Tonight, I am staying at the radio studio in order to avoid another ice-storm scheduled for tomorrow morning. I'll probably be playing music and other stuff starting sometime after midnight, depending on which other DJs show up. It's Winter Break time! Happy Solstice, Christmas, Hanukah... to anyone who reads this in the next few days.

Current Location: Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
Current Mood: awake

2 comments or Leave a comment
redmarshgrass From: redmarshgrass Date: December 24th, 2008 07:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, what an experience! I'm glad your family and house are OK.

Living on the other side of the world, in a sub-tropical location (Brisbane, Australia), I can only only imagine what an ice storm would be like. What we get at this time of the year are severe hailstorms, with hail sized between that of a golf ball and an orange, usually with strong winds. In North American terms these are like FJ scale 2-3 tornadoes. We also keep a close eye on the weather radar, looking for the dark red to black that indicates hail.

Best wishes for Christmas.
mysticsmeeting From: mysticsmeeting Date: December 25th, 2008 03:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Glad that you and Denise are OK- SO sorry to hear you are still without Power- the word on the news was that all of NH would be set by today- but not to be so, eh? If I know you folks though, youll make a learning adventure of it! We were without for 5 full days, even though neighbors had theirs 3 days sooner- my oh my what a blessing though to have a hot shower back! (not meaning to rub it in, sorry) Allows us to appreciate with more than a bit of Gratitude, the simple things of life...

Peace, and a Joyous Time for you and yours my friend,
2 comments or Leave a comment