Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Falling Trees

If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Hell, yes, it does! At least, it does if you’re in the rainforest. And it not only makes a sound, but also causes a giant ripple of chaos. The earth shakes, other trees get felled in its path, animals and homes get crushed, power lines go down, and so forth.
In Costa Rica (where I live part time), if a tree falls in one town, it can mean a blackout for the next town over. Tree falling weather is such a big deal that people take out extra insurance in case a tree falls on their house.
Heavy rain is what causes the trees to fall, and right now, we’ve got some heavy rain on the Caribbean coast. A tree fell across the road a few days ago and took out the phone lines. No internet for days, which wouldn’t be such a big deal if I wasn’t trying to blog, organize a tour for my dance company director, and organize a belly dance intensive to Egypt. What made me think that I could accomplish all that while living in the rainforest? I guess living in an urban center for part of the year makes me forget what it’s like to live in a rural village down in the tropics.
Falling trees have some interesting positives, though. The bromeliads that grow high in the branches become accessible and make a beautiful addition to my garden. The wildlife that comes out of the tree make worthy photographs. Take the wicked scorpion that crawled out of the tree that fell on our road last year; I hadn’t seen a scorpion in the wild until then. And come to think about it, I hope that’s the last time I see one! The thing looked like a vicious, little alien.
We used to have a beautiful, old growth tree in our yard. We even paid extra to extend the property when we bought it, just so we could have the tree included. Ironically, a few months later we found out that the tree was diseased and rotting and would most likely come crashing down at some point, so we had to cut it down. The pieces of the massive tree trunk are still in our backyard- cutting them up and burning them seems like too big of a job for us to tackle just yet.
The most unfortunate thing, however, is that the wood from the old growth trees is too soft to use for anything besides mulch for the garden. Of course, deep in the rainforest, fallen trees are merely a part of the ecosystem. I guess all the broken power lines, damaged houses, and blocked roads are our own fault for moving into nature’s playground. And I better take out some house insurance soon, because I think the tree across the road has an eye on my house and is biding its time to come crashing down for when I least expect it. In Costa Rica, trees have a mind of their own!

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