Little City Beat / "Bigger than us"
I was going to outline and break down health insurance reform this month (no, it's not health care reform). I was going to explain its obvious weaknesses to those proponents who see the new law as near flawless. Then, point out its unquestionable strengths to those detractors who can't find the smallest of merit in provisions that will improve their lives. And finally compare it to my own superior ideas from last summer.
But I am suffering from health care fatigue. It would command too much of my time and effort to offer another rational approach to convince enough nuts to fill Yankee Stadium. When there is more light than heat again, I will rejoin the fracas. Until such time, I'd rather have a root canal or play with a porcupine than discuss public options.
Instead, I'd like to cover a subject that has my undivided attention. It is bigger than us. It does not argue. It can't be persuaded. It is non-partisan. Momma nature has the last word when it comes to our sometime grunt existence. I found that out once again during the little hurricane of '10 a few weeks ago. And I thought I'd seen it all at this old house.
I've seen gangs of deer by the dozen raiding the property of acorns. They don't get mail, but they sure can call my place home in every other way. I've seen, from 50 feet, two young bucks in a fight to the finish until one gave up in wobbly retreat. You could hear the clash of horns from inside. From only 5 feet away through a window, I've seen a doe feeding on an old Halloween pumpkin. Its head was covered in orange juice.
I've heard bands of coyote wail in concert from a nearby woodland amphitheater. The sound is not mournful at all, as legend has it. It is inspiring. But these creatures of the night are not entirely nocturnal. One time, I called out to a next door neighbor's dog on a summer afternoon. Only, it wasn't a dog. It stopped in its tracks and locked stares with me. After a frozen moment, it sat down on its haunches like a domestic dog. That wile coyote was bored with our stand off.
There was the litter of raccoon kits that pawed at the back door for leftovers. A possum found drifting on a pool float, very much alive. A cat that latched onto a turkey three times its size, went airborne about 2 feet, and let go of the tail feathers. The feline dropped to the ground. I'll never forget the carnage administered by a red tail hawk upon an unsuspecting squirrel sitting on a swing set. It was all over in minutes with nothing but fur for remains. And yet, there is nothing sweeter than seeing a giant bullfrog in the hands of a child. Try it some time.
Well, on March 13, all heck broke loose, as is well known. When the power cut off before sunset, I thought I'd retire to the water closet and catch up with my local paper (guess which one). The wind was roaring above. When I thought, this can't be good, something's coming down, I became mesmerized by an immense oak almost twice in length of the distance from my stance.
It was moving north, south, east and west. It was rocking radical. It could not make its mind up where to fall. At the moment it finally decided, it occurred to me: This ... is how ... it all ends. Not with a home run or a hole-in-one, but with my britches down.
That well over 100-foot, 100-year-old timber fell west, not north. It took two other trees with it. It moved the shed off its base just two inches and merely scraped an even larger oak on its descent. I swear it was providence, if not physics. To watch was absolutely amazing. Yes, if a tree falls in the woods, it makes a sound.
Power was restored. Like thousands of others, I vacated the cellar from flood. I cut the trees in fireplace sections. Life resumed as normal (knock on wood). But as cliché as it sounds, I must proffer this. Some things above our understanding and beyond our control are more awesome than our petty differences below. The natural earth includes us only if we include it. I bear witness.
Oh, and anyone who needs firewood is welcome. Free of charge.
Dan Vasone's column is published each month in the Fairfield Citizen.