Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Storm in, storm out

Yesterday's temporary citrus grove, brought inside to prevent toppling in Isaias's winds (you can see them in my Instagram Stories).

The terrace, strapped down before the storm. This morning I sipped my coffee there, all calm, and thought about Beirut. The coffee is Najjar and Beirut is its home. The destruction is unimaginable.

In the late afternoon I walked in Prospect Park a little earlier than I should have. Two-days of cabin fever, and a curiosity to see the familiar place after a changing storm, sent me picking my way over fallen branches while the departing gusts of Isaias occasionally convulsed the branches of tall trees. Sycamores left a litter of small branches and leaves. 

Familiar paths were impassable. Admiring and exploring the fallen foliage were some families, and parent-child exploratory teams, moms with babies strapped to them, a father glued to his live-streaming phone to share storm pictures while his toddler grabbed his dad's pants asking to be noticed. 

I was wondering about late-falling branches, weakened by the intense winds, and all those leaning trunks, propped by their neighbors, but called widowmakers for a reason (yes, it's sexist, but it's dated - widower makers, orphan makers?). If you hear that sickening splitting sound - unhelpfully directionless -  how do you get your flock of small children out of the way in a hurry?

Why do we feel compelled to walk out and see the fallen trees? See, this fallen tree, it was up, now it is down. It was big and it broke. 

The storm flattened indiscriminately. While I am sure that streets flanked by the infamously weak-crotched callery pears (the Frenchman calls them calamity pears) are choked by their broken boughs, the casualties I saw in the park included black cherry, linden, mulberry, maples, oak, and sycamore. Some were sick, weakened and eaten from the inside out by pathogens like the delicious hen of the woods (maitake) mushroom, or chicken of the woods, or honey mushrooms. Good for our dinner, bad for the trees.

Others may have been weakened by humans. People who barbecue in the park sometimes tip their hot coals out on the lawn at the base of trees when they leave. I think this linden may have been serially scorched. 

What do you think? So odd that it was absolutely flush with the ground.

This mulberry looked like a giant gardener's hand had pulled it from the earth. 

En route home. 

I haven't been to Green-Wood, yet, and wonder how their huge, beautiful trees fared. They are very well looked-after so it is possible that Prospect Park's suffered more. The historic cemetery is well funded privately, while the shame of the park is that while everyone uses it, the (equally historic) public space is allocated a pittance by the city and state. 

The sun is shining, and humidity is back. All quiet till the next one.



  1. How sad to see the fallen trees, and especially the scorched one. Why DO people tip hot coals at the base of a tree, so cruel.

  2. It was quite a storm and quite the damage to those precious trees, glad no human damage. We are in the dry time of the year and this time the fog is thick and it lingers until the afternoon, I am so in need of hot, sunny day. Walks to the beach help. Thanks for taking us along, alway a joy!!!

    1. Fog sounds really nice... But I am sure sun is better for the soul.

  3. Hi Marie! I hope you are doing well! I was wondering what is the name of the plant with purple flowers in a terra-cotta pot under the white roses?

    1. Hi Jose - it's a salvia, can't remember the cultivar name...

  4. The only possible good storm damage like that does in a park is to force the folks who are supposed to provide "care" to clean up the debris and perhaps do a bit of trimming in the process ... which might help the next time. When will municipalities learn that an ounce of prevention is worth a lot of saved time on clean up later?


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