The Wrong Month

I think maybe this October and next March had a little conference sometime over the summer and October decided that it wanted to try the in/out like a lamb/lion thing. It picked “lamb” first. I’m not sure why I didn’t blog about this before, but I really should have mentioned earlier that at the beginning of October it was so unseasonably warm (on a statewide holiday, no less) that for The Boyfriend’s Daughter’s birthday, she, one of her pals, The Boyfriend and I all went to the beach. For the whole day. I got more sunburnt than I have in years because evidently I felt the fact that it was October should have had the same effect as SPF 70. It didn’t.

The “lion” bit of the month was over the weekend, as I recently mentioned. Neither weather event was socially appropriate for October in New England–I’m not sure what it was trying to prove. On Sunday morning there was a foot of very slushy snow on the ground, and there were also a lot of wires and hanks of tree-limbs there instead of where they were meant to be. It never got as windy as the 2008 Ice Storm, but the trees hadn’t dropped all their leaves yet and the snow, being sticky and dense, stuck to all the extra surface area, teamed up with gravity, and yanked everything inexorably downward. My mother’s tall, thin, upright lilac tree bent right in half and until the snow melted, I couldn’t tell if it had broken or simply jackknifed. (It turns out it was the latter, and it has sprung back up most of the way, but I don’t think it will ever be quite the same.) Two birchlings in the back are kissing the kitchen window. A branch broke off a tree in the woods and crashed onto a hapless rhododendron, which had had another limb from the same tree crash on it (for less apparent reason) over the summer.

Down the road from me is a house which once had a sturdy old oak tree in the middle of the front yard. At least . . . it looked sturdy. Now it looks like it exploded. When I see it, it doesn’t even make sense, it’s such a splintery, leafy mess everywhere, and yet the tree seems still to be standing. It doesn’t look like there are enough tear-off marks in the trunk for there to be as much mayhem on the ground, and the other remarkable thing is that the house, which is mere feet from this large piece of vegetation, doesn’t seem to have been hit. But the wires were all tangled up in it, and it’s going to take a while to clean up what’s left, I think.

In 2008, the ice made everything spiky and shiny, and there were no leaves to camouflage anything, so I think I noticed the devastation a little more immediately. This time around, although I still find myself dodging leaf-covered branches in the road, I think it’s taken me a little while to realise just how much damage has been done to the trees. It looks like some clumsy giant decided to go leaf-peeping in New England and stomped on everything he was trying to view. In other places it looks more like some trees held an unseasonal and not quite appropriate celebration of Palm Sunday, committing some kind of weird and masochistic religious asceticism, flinging themselves or at least some of their branches into roads and pathways. Somehow, the branches in the roads always seem to be blocking off the lane one is, at that moment, driving it, no matter which direction one is driving. There are never any on the other side.

Most of the snow is gone now, and it’s a little easier to assess the actual damage on one’s own property now, because you can see which trees and branches are springing back and which aren’t. I think The Boyfriend and I are going to be working on some clean-up this weekend. All I can say is, if this was a trade between months, next March better be about as non-descript as Cream of Wheat.


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