How Slowly We Heal

hightree2_sm
Big Leaf Maple Stump

Five months ago, on the 7th of April, an early morning windstorm brought down an 80-foot big leaf maple. It was an old tree, its trunk over five feet in diameter, so old that there is no city record of its planting. It survived a vicious ice storm in December, a snow storm in January, and untold storms in the years of its growing and leafy shade across High Street. The core was rotted, but no one knew it until it toppled diagonally and strafed the office building across the alley. Windows were smashed, gutters and roof mangled, the awning and wrought-iron railing on the steps destroyed. The damage from the fallen tree has taken five months to repair, in slow painstaking steps, multiple subcontractors working their respective disciplines coordinated in precise order, windows boarded up with plywood blocking the light inside.

high_street_scaffold
Repair Scaffolding

For weeks the building was fronted by a scaffolding to allow workmen to move across its face. Various vagrants or travelers, sidewalk people or refugees, tried to take up residence under the cover of the scaffold walkway to sleep, drink malt liquor, or smoke a blunt. To replace the dormer window at the crown of the 1909 building required a small lean workman to crawl into the attic space, chase off the lingering sparrow, and hoist the window up from the ground. It has taken hours and days of frustration and patience to rebuild from a wanton capricious damage. Today the last piece, the newly forged wrought-iron railing, goes into place.

I have wrangled these repairs, nearly wept in vexation at the complications and delays. Yet, as I learn about the incalculable damage in Houston and Louisiana, the on-going rampage of Hurricane Irma passing from Florida north toward Georgia, I find myself ashamed. No one was hurt by the falling tree, no one lost a life, a limb or a loved one. In truth, I’ve learned how suddenly disaster happens, and how slowly we heal. In deepest sympathy for all those struggling, and all that was lost in these last few weeks,

Κ

Author: Kim K. McCrea

Kim K. McCrea worked as a Systems Analyst in IT for over 25 years before returning to literature and letters. Kim recently won the Silver Creek Writers Residency/Treefort Wild West Prize for Creative Nonfiction and is a finalist in Proximity Magazine's 2017 Essay Prize competition. Kim attended the Robert D. Clark Honors College and received her BA in English from the University of Oregon. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she wrangles her Labrador and scouts for Great Blue Herons.

2 thoughts on “How Slowly We Heal”

  1. I wasn’t sure exactly what this piece was about, until I got to the end, but it was the mentioning of the hurricane and those getting through the disaster that brought it in full circle. I enjoyed this story, thank you for sharing!

    By the way, I am, in an overall sense, a new blogger here. If you would be willing, please take a look. Any and all feedback is welcomed and encouraged! 🙂
    https://wordpress.com/view/denaespieces.wordpress.com

    Like

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