Uprooted, Part Four: A Different Storm

Uprooted, Part Four: A Different Storm

Seeing a giant maple tree I’d known my whole life snap and fall in the wind storm rattled me. I didn’t think it make sense that something that big and strong could go down so suddenly. My unease was compounded by learning that hundreds of thousands of trees were down and that power outages had surpassed Maine’s historic Ice Storm of ’98. 

What I thought about in Part Two is that wind and trees have been dealing with each other for millions of years; well before humans got in the middle with telephone poles, wire lines, and “property”. Thinking about this wind storm in the context of trees’ 370 million years of existence and survival on the planet made me more objective. Nature has a tidying process. I might have over-reacted in Part One by describing the uprooted trees in my backyard as “crime scenes”. 

Even with perspective and power restored, I still had a lingering sense of vulnerability triggered by the events of this storm.

Uprooted, Part Three: Brain Reacts

Uprooted, Part Three: Brain Reacts

In Part One of this four-part blog series, I wrote about how curiously shaken I felt by a recent wind storm that uprooted and snapped trees across Northern New England and left behind a historic power outage. In Part Two, I looked to Mother Nature and a book by forester Peter Wohlleben for answers and found common sense explanations as to how and why the fallen trees were so vulnerable to the wind.

That helped me understand their vulnerability, but it didn’t help explain my heightened sense of vulnerability.

Uprooted, Part Two: Trees Respond

Uprooted, Part Two: Trees Respond

In Part One of this three-part blog series, I wrote about the wind that blew through Northern New England two nights before Halloween, and how uneasy I felt seeing what I thought were strong trees ripped out of the ground or snapped like twigs. I wondered how this autumn storm could have resulted in a historic power outage in the State of Maine, surpassing even the often cited “Ice Storm of ’98.” I also wondered why seeing the landscape littered with downed trees made me question my own landscape of security so suddenly.  

Why were the trees more vulnerable than I thought?

A two-pronged investigation - in the field and in the “classroom” - offered some answers.

Uprooted, Part One: Thoughts after a storm

Uprooted, Part One: Thoughts after a storm

“Vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state.” - David Whyte

I didn’t hear the trees falling during the night because the winds were too loud. 

In the morning I wondered how I could have missed the sounds of them being beat up: pushed over, snapped, cracked or downed. 

I walked around and saw trees on the ground, roots ripped out and exposed. 

It made me want to cover them up or look away.

Malibu Moonlight: An Excerpt from The Home Road documentary film website blog

Malibu Moonlight: An Excerpt from The Home Road documentary film website blog

In a way, astronomy is a history lesson. In some cases, ancient history. Telescopes are able to see objects so far away that their light is millions and billions of years old.  Imagine. Our view of the universe- what we look up to for inspiration, navigation, knowledge and direction - is a great big window on the past.

Malibu Friendship

It was my best friend’s birthday over Labor Day weekend, but I feel like I got the gifts. Weather and work timing played out so that we filled parts of three days talking for miles - over sand, sea, rocks, and roads - on foot, ferries, cars and a golf cart (not golfing).  We traversed. We covered a lot of ground, and not just the kind underneath our feet.  

One of my favorite writers/bloggers, Maria Popova, has featured insights and essays on “Friendship” in recent weekly emails. I plucked some quotes from her notes as well as from my 2016 “go-to book," Consolations.

John O’Donahue - “A friend…awakens your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson described two key elements of a solid friendship: Truth and Tenderness. “A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere.  … Friendship is for aid and comfort through all the relations and passages of life and death. It is fit for serene days, and graceful gifts, and country rambles, but also for rough roads and hard fare, shipwreck, poverty and persecution.” 

David Whyte - “The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”

Aristotle - “Friends hold a mirror up to each other; through that mirror they can see each other in ways that would not otherwise be accessible to them.”

Eudora Welty wondered which came first - friendship or the spoken word? “Friendship might have been the first, as well as the best, teacher of communication.” As Maria Popova elaborates, “…it might be the basic necessities of friendship that sparked in us the evolutionary need for language.”

Almost every essay speaks to space, rhythm and accountability in friendship at its highest levels. 

Malibu Maine is an imaginary hometown, but my wish isn’t for imaginary friends to hang out on its street corners (although a couple of really good ones are fine). My wish is for friendships to develop through imagination, language, creativity and interaction.  Building Malibu - the site, the “idea barn," the place and the platform, with its infinite possibilities - has only just begun. But it wouldn’t have gotten this far without key friendships. 

Labor Day weekend is a symbolic summer turning point in Maine. Not only did I get to see a magnificent island landscape through the eyes and experiences of my friend, but she held a mirror up and let me see myself in a way that would not be accessible otherwise. 

Malibu Memory

“Memory is not just a then, recalled in a now, the past is never just the past, memory is a pulse passing through all created life, a waveform, a then continually becoming other thens, all the while creating a continual but almost untouchable now.” - David Whyte

I use images to help me remember experiences, feelings and new ideas.

When a good idea shows up, I take a picture of the setting I’m in and that helps my memory, whether I have time to write a few words down or not.  It’s easier for me to remember an idea when I have context; where I was and what I was doing. Also, the action of taking a photo gives motion to the moment; in turn making the idea and the space it’s inhabiting more active. 

Some "idea-moment-spaces" are less scenic than others. I have a picture of the inside of my refrigerator, because that’s where I was standing, staring blankly at butter last winter, when I had an editing idea for my film. 

I’ve walked by this painting thousands of times. 

Today I stopped, stared for a long while and took its picture. 

It’s how I’ll remember today: my mom’s birthday; my first July 24th without her; and the day Malibu Maine was born. 

Mom and Dad bought this William Ehrig Maine seascape when they were newlyweds. 

My Mom’s beauty is represented by the moonlight and her strength by the elemental force of nature.

“Malibu” is of Native American origin from the Chumash word “Humanliwo: where the surf sounds loudly” (reference)

The sound, movement and power of breaking waves remind me of Malibu.

My range of emotions today are rolling like the sea into a moonlit Maine night.

Happy Birthday Mom. Happy Birthday Malibu.