More than ever, each of us get swept up in our own lives. After all, we capital-H Humans are at the top of the Everything Chain. That’s why narcissism is one of our most identifiable traits, besides having the ability to speak and understanding how opposable thumbs isn’t alluding to the idiot talking heads on your favorite news channel. When something happens, we’re shaken out of our own routines. Such was the case yesterday, March 15th.
I could get poetic and spray “Ides of March” references all over this essay, but I won’t. A tree fell in the city where I live, and it was horrifying. It wasn’t a matter of what day of the year it was. It wasn’t a matter of religion, nor was it vengeance from any other human or group of people. It was just a thing that happened because of nature played a hand of cards at this big poker game we’re all sitting at. “Oregon Hold’Em”, let’s call it.
In downtown Portland, Park Street runs north and south as two different arteries. We love our one-way streets, say the city planners. Who knows why that is, I mean, there’s plenty of space in the magnificent northwestern Oregon hills. The tree fell into Market Street, which runs perpendicular to Park Street. It was a hundred-year-old-or-so big mother of a tree. It had given shadow and grace to the Portland State University campus where it was planted in a prior century. The wind gusts were strong yesterday, some reaching 58-60 miles per hour. It was too much for this mother of a tree, and it did fall down.
Driving eastbound on Market Street was an unsuspecting motorist in a red Jeep 4×4. When the tree collapsed, the weight of the fall and the subsequent crush of this behemoth did absolutely obliterate the medium-sized SUV that had not a single chance in the gravitational matter. Nature versus man usually ends up with man losing.
The best news is that while the vehicle was destroyed and is certain to cause painful insurance adjusting, the driver of the vehicle is said to have survived and is recovering at a local hospital. You would expect the opposite based on the grisly scene of the occurrence. Countless firefighters and city workers pried the citizen free from the wreckage, and they are to be commended as the underpaid heroes that they are.
Many other trees fell this past weekend. Record rainfall happened, mud slid places, and people were inconvenienced. Much of this is to be expected when you live in one of the more serene, beautiful places on this earth. The romance people have with the Pacific Northwest may ultimately lead to their undoing of sorts, but the reward is definitely worth the risk.
photo credit: KATU