I feel like the sky is falling.
Which, of course, means figuratively as well as literally in the English language these days, but actually perfectly describes how I’m feeling.
With the chasm between common sense and willful ignorance widening daily, it seems like America – if not all of humanity – is doomed.
People are eagerly and proudly choosing to embrace behaviors and ideologies that are not simply personally risky to them (mask and vaccine deniers) but also threaten the future of living on our planet for very near, if not already present generations.
I truly cannot understand those people. Say it with me, “Stupid Americans”.
Two things here. The first is that the smoke from our fires in central and southern Oregon has finally rolled back in to Portland. The rest of the country has been getting our smoke – as far away as Minnesota from what people have shared with me personally, but I’ve heard NYC has even seen some.
It’s nowhere near the literal worst air quality on the planet we had last year, but it’s still a climate crisis in progress. But when you can see literal ash debris on your car after it’s been parked on the street a few hours, I’d say that qualifies as “falling skies”, no?
The second is even more heartbreaking to me as a native Portlander. I love our greenery here. Both the actual forests and our urban green spaces. I live on a street named Park that borders five city blocks of park space called the North Park Blocks. Many of the trees on these blocks are as old as our state, if not older in some cases. And they are called “North” because they are in the northwest quadrant of town and there is an even longer string of blocks on the same street running through the southwest quadrant of town. I’ll let you figure out what we call those blocks on your own.
Go ahead, now…intuit.
Anyway, over the summer, I know of four instances in my string of blocks where trees have just dropped branches.
…and some not too massive. The above pic is not as big around as a small car, but it was a good 25 feet length of branch. There was one that fell right in front of me early in the summer late one night as I turned onto Park after driving all night. It blocked a two lane road from the base of its trunk to almost the opposite curb.
There’s no wind storm happening. And I expect branches to fall during our increasingly common winter ice events.
But in still skies?!?
My thought on this is that the trees are just so dry from our lack of rain – and it’s a drought condition that has been going on since our February snow storm. April ‘21 was the driest on record by one-third with only a half inch of rain for the month – that these trees have become too dry and brittle to even resist gravity.
How sad. Tragic.
But, Portland being weird and still trying to be green, puts a decidedly Portland spin on the situation by creating…a seating nook!
Here’s the branch that fell, about one-third of the tree’s canopy.
And here’s what Portland does…makes it cozy. Not that I know these will be left here long term. Although I wouldn’t blame Portland Parks & Rec if they did decide to leave them. Branches like this become breeding grounds for all sorts of other flora, so it would essentially be a public science exhibit.
But on a less pithy and optimistic note, check out the tree that had to be completely removed after losing part of itself to nothing more than the pull of gravity.
It was taller than the historic five story brick building across from it. Probably older, too.
Now it’s nothing more than a stump that’s basically the size of a BMW.
Of course, maybe I have this all wrong. Just because I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime doesn’t mean it isn’t perfectly natural. Maybe trees randomly fall apart every 50 years or so.
Or…maybe it’s due to climate change.
Ooooor…maybe there’s a giant cat roaming around town at night that no one has seen yet. I certainly have something similar – albeit on a much smaller scale – happening in my home.
Mistress Myrtle is not taking questions.