For the past two years there has been a hefty flock of turkey vultures roosting in this huge dying sycamore in the village of Pottersville.
Today I realized that now, there are many more spreading to adjacent trees, and they have even settled on chimneys in the neighborhood. What's the point? I'm not sure, other than it's creepy. But also, carrion seem to be thriving, and my guess is, it's because everything else is hungry, and vulnerable. You'd expect at least a temporary explosion of opportunistic species as the others die off, from lack of sustenance, as the plant-based food chain collapses.
Along both sides of the street that runs through, there are a number old hemlocks, probably planted about a hundred years ago, which are swiftly dropping needles. Lately, the bark has noticeably deteriorated.
It is covered with sap that has been oozing from cracks and holes, which has hardened into something that resembles a dirty sugar icing...and bark is popping off in large sections, revealing the raw red wood beneath.
The tips of the branches of this maple are stubby - there is no evidence of fresh young growth from last summer, and the trunk has lost massive strips of bark. Just behind it are pine trees with almost no needles remaining.
Further beyond is a typical blackened maple. I never saw this black bark until it began a rapid spread two years ago - and now it is everywhere to be found.
It has been too frigid to venture outside for anything other than essential excursions. Once long ago on the old fashioned kind of telephone, I asked my sister if she ever felt frightened in the night, when there is a blizzard howling. I always have - I am very conscious that merely a flimsy thin wall, and tenuous source of heat that will cease if the power goes out, is all that separates my cozy warmth from a freezing death. She laughed and said of course she did - and then added sardonically, that of all the people she knew at the big fancy law firm where she worked in downtown Manhattan, with the four-figure floral arrangements in the foyer, none suffered any such inkling. They blithely assumed without question that the world would always remain the benign, predictable place they had enjoyed all their privileged lives...at least, for them.Driving Straight Into Catastrophe? (Come back to that link and read it!) Last night I was pondering my recollection of a few episodes of averted and actual drownings that have punctuated my life.
What has this got to do with the topic of this blog - trees dying from exposure to ozone? Quite a bit, potentially.
For the most part, like a child slipping into water, the trees barely make a splash compared to the daily roar for attention from a culture overwhelmingly technological.
Perhaps having these close brushes with the ephemerality of life (and a few others, besides) has enabled me to see how abruptly and capriciously life can end, as it is now in the process of ending, everywhere.
That you don't know what you've got till it's gone?
We paved paradise, put up a parking lot.
- Joni Mitchell
Here's a different version, with some enchanting photos:
I highly recommend this fountain of searing outrage from columnist Chris Hedges, "Where Liberals go to Feel Good," which is a painful evisceration of well-meaning hand-wringing disillusioned progressives who aren't really willing to step out of their comfort zone to effect the change they claim is required. And then, there is the awakening fury of courageous people rising up to denounce inequality, unemployment and, most urgently, the escalating cost of food. I have heard estimates of 90,000 people protesting in Egypt on this "Day of Anger" which will quite likely turn into many "Days" before it's over. The following news report was posted in a brief flash on Yahoo, and then was surpassed in importance by some football player with hurt feelings, the cast of Jersey Shore, and Gingrich calling for the abolishment of the EPA. The revolution will not be televised...