September 8th brought a tremendous storm to Albuquerque,NM. The 70+ mph winds split a main branch on my beautiful mulberry tree. I call him Maynard. Another tree further north fell across our main power-line, and knocked out two transformers. We were without electricity for three days.
I have found myself comparing Maynard to our current cultural system. There is a systemic rot that has been waiting to crack for years. Experts disagree about the cause: root rot, or metal pins put in place years ago to prevent this kind of splitting. (Climate change, or poor forest management?) The point is, there’s a systemic problem. The question is how do we fix it?
One expert suggests we cut off two major limbs. In my humble opinion, that would be too stressful for Maynard. He’s over 50 years old and needs that blood supply through his trunk. Severing half his main trunk would kill him.
Another expert suggest cutting off the fallen limb, and a few branches off the other limb that is showing signs of disease. This would relieve some of the pressure and give Maynard a few more good years. It would also reduce the chances of Maynard falling on our wall and our neighbor’s house. It would give us time to plan his ultimate demise and consider options for an honorable death. But do we have that time?
My husband and I are like Maynard in many ways. We are deeply rooted in our home. We are showing increasing signs of age, and physical weakness. We are also a part of the systemic rot that is our culture.
We don’t like many aspects of this culture, but we don’t have much choice in what vehicle we use to drive, how we get our food, and daily necessities. We know this cultural system is fragile and out of balanced. Yet, we need to prepare for a future with more fires, more violent storms, more displaced animals and humans, less food and water. And because of the inevitable shortages, there will be more violence. How do we prepare for that exactly?
In the midst of this chaos, several neighbors with power ran extension cords across the street to neighbors without. These same neighbors offered to recharge technological devices for others without power. Without the ability to recharge our phones, we could not call for help, contact insurance or the power company. Suddenly, we are left to our own devices for survival. With no lights in the house at night, my husband was more vulnerable to falls in the night. He made sure he didn’t need to get up or go very far from bed in the dark. We both had our flashlights handy.
With no electricity, we could not cook our own food. In fact, our food was going bad without refrigeration. We had to eat out, increasing our exposure to Covid19.
Finally the power came back on. We are slowly replacing the food that was lost, and getting ahead of the household food supply. We have three proposals for tree limb cut-release, and removal. We have the insurance considering those proposals and their own bottom line. I have cleared some of the branches from the patio and restored my bird feeding station.
So, the healing has begun. Order is slowly being restored. But, can we truly return to “business as usual?” We can only do one thing at a time. But that one thing must be to improve ourselves each day. We must do it with compassion for others. We must share our power when we can. We must be kind and generous. We must vote with the seventh generation in mind.