Yesterday, there was a storm that knocked out power somewhere else. It rained in sheets, like the rivulets at the bottom of folded shower curtains, such that I could barely see.
The wind had come after the first few drops, and stood the foliage of the old maple straight up, pulled the mass of boughs and six inch leaves into a child’s bath-time faux-hawk.
The gale passed and I looked away, only turning back at the sound of wet tires skitter-catching. A branch larger than some small trees had fallen into the road, and drivers saw it late.
Some odd sense of civic duty possessed me, drug me out of my clothes into swim trunks and a t-shirt, then out into the street where I tugged at the wet, still green branches of the crumbled mass. The first few shoots tore in my hand, and then the larger one, the one that wouldn’t be broken, pulled back at my apex, rocked me off my feet as the ponderous whole wrestled to toss me into the street. I let go, re-gripped and pulled into the wet turf until I had the thing landed.
Other pieces remained, a few large, many small. The process became like a game of Frogger, dash out, snatch a branch, dash back. Most cars ignored me. No genial, thankful waves. One woman in an SUV parked in front of a branch and blew her horn while I watched. I let her exhaust herself, let the cars with irate, one fingered drivers pass her, then I let her go. After the street had emptied I returned to it to pull that final piece.
Today, there’s not much left. The city collected the wood I’d gathered. I missed my opportunity to drag it up to the porch to save for future projects. I filled three buckets with rain, but I’ll use that in a week of dry heat. Storms seem so special, so dramatic, but all that altered light and changed appearance results in nothing permanent. The sun always comes, and inevitably the world smooths out again, all the wrinkles and hidden spots resolving to nothing, like childhood fears against the implacable daybreak.