Friday, March 14, 2008

Riepe Ridge looks like a war zone . . .

By Lonnie Cruse

"Riepe Ridge looks like a war zone." That was the latest word from a customer at Humma's Drug Store when I stopped by to pick up my prescription recently. News that was not terribly surprising. Much of this area in southern Illinois and western Kentucky now looks like a war zone. Tree limbs and branches down everywhere, far too many to count, and the trees they were ripped off are reduced to half their original size with twisted pieces of limbs left dangling. Many large trees were completely felled to the ground as well, roots now laying bare, having been ripped out of the ground as the trees toppled over. One of the largest trees in the woods that borders our back yard just missed hitting our well house and the gazebo when it came down in seconds. It will take days to cut up and burn or haul off.

So what caused this disaster? Tornado? High winds? Lightning strikes? Run amok chain saws? Nope.

Ice.

Thin, transparent, lightweight in appearance, certainly lighter than the trees, the ice fell like a soft rain, enveloped all the trees for miles, and within a few hours made this area look WORSE than when the killer tornado ripped through here several years ago. Falling limbs and trees blocked roads, damaged buildings, and took out electrical power in almost the entire area, leaving us all in the dark and many with no heat or water for anywhere from several days to a week or more. Local power crews were kept hopping, without sleep and barely time to eat. Crews from other states came in to help. Many residents were forced to move to local hotels or in with family or friends who were, lucky for them, on the edge of the devastation. Another lucky few had or bought generators. Or like us, had a ventless gas fire place to heat the house and a stray cup of tea now and then. Incidentally, oil lamps are handy, but they're not real easy to read the latest mystery by.

The icy covering on the trees was so beautiful and so very deadly to them. Spring is nearly here and I'm afraid to think of what the Dogwood and Azalea Festival will be like this year. So many trees with no branches to hold the blooms. This huge devastation all caused from something that seemed so thin, so see-through at the time started me thinking. Life is like that too. Things happen to us that seem small or unimportant on the outside, or maybe to an outsider, but those things can bring us down to the ground . . . if we let them. Or at the very least, damage us to the point of being unable to function properly for a period of time.

Thoughtless words. Criticism. Disloyalty. Jealousy. Hate. Anger. Foolish joking. Gossip. Whatever. These things can quickly and silently destroy us . . . if we let them.

The trees that actually fell were most likely too old and either weak or diseased to withstand the coat of ice, and they quickly toppled, pulling their very roots out of the ground. No chance for survival or regrowth there. The very strongest survived without nary a branch breaking off. The rest survived with damage but will likely bud out, and in a few years the eye won't be able to tell any difference. Humans are like that too.

How strong are you? Can you withstand some damage? Survive without toppling over and pulling your very roots out of the ground? Just some thoughts for the day.

2 comments:

Sheila Connolly said...

When I lived in Pennsylvania a few years ago we suffered a major ice storm. I remember lying in bed and listening to limbs crack off and fall. Driving around after the ice melted, I was appalled to see so many fresh "wounds" on trees, where limbs had sheared away.

But curiously, in a year or two the damage was no longer evident. Life goes on.

Maybe it's just nature's way of pruning things, much as fires clear out excess underbrush. What seems like a catastrophe at first, fades away fairly quickly.

So if we get a nasty comment from someone, maybe there's a nugget of truth there, and we should seek that out and ignore the rest.

Lonnie Cruse said...

Great thoughts, Sheila, thanks for sharing! And I hope you are right, and in a few years it will look better. Pruning would be good!