I knew the Earth Day storm was coming. I didn’t fish, oddly enough. It was chill and drizzly most of the day. I had minor tasks to complete at home. A “Nor’easter” was blowing toward the state. By morning there would be enough wet snow to cancel school for the first time in the 2011-2012 calendar year. I went out to dig wild leeks along Hemlock Brook and then I brought the wild onions to their fated destination. Ooh that April smell! That flash of fire in the bulb! Leighanne diced the woodland vegetable and added it to the ground beef with accompanying corn casserole for a tasty late-day meal.
It took me a while to scrape the morning ice and snow from the vehicles. This was the biggest “winter storm” of the year and it had waited till late April to arrive. Forsythias drooped with snow at the end of the driveway, their fading yellow blossoms looking like a giant pile of corn casserole. The front yard maple boughs drooped toward the ground; a tree cracked sharply on the hillside. I took a small broom and gently thwacked the lower branches to remove some ice and snow.
The wet stuff fell intermittently throughout the day. By mid-afternoon I noticed that our century-old lilacs by the barn were cracked and fallen to the ground. Their flower buds, more advanced than in typical Aprils at this time, seemed to beg mercy. Maybe I would leave these crippled bushes for a final blossoming just inches over the lawn.
Storms that do not devastate or imperil have a certain beauty. They allow us to enter a world where humans have little or no power to control events. We can drop to our knees and bemoan the loss of a favorite tree or bush and be thankful that the life had been here among us. It could’ve been worse. A hundred-footer could’ve dropped and crashed on an empty vehicle or, worse, on a roof and through the living room. The randomness of storm events reminds us that real freedom is something we can only dream about from the comfort of our civilized ways. We can seek to be free from the deadening pressures of society, but then we depend on the storms and breezes of the universe to survive. I can only surmise the difficulty of such a venture.
All I know is this: on Earth Day I went out to collect wild leeks for a meal. The next day there was heavy snow and ancient lilacs lying on the ground. The Earth had given and, apparently, the Earth had taken away.