Four years and six days ago, we watched a wall of white march across the field, a roaring mass that stretched from north to south as it blew southeast. We weathered the June 29, 2012 derecho from a basement window, watched the trees bend and debris fly over their tops.
In the end, several hardwoods fell on the nature preserve. Only a few fell over trails, so the others remained where they fell to provide habitat and host. We lost more pines than anything, their shallow foundations not suited to the soil and winds here. Four years later, the Fourth of July weekend provided the right conditions for us to break up the dried pine and safely burn.
We moved the brush to cleared ground, shaking loose pill bugs, millipedes and a garter snake that is blind as it prepares to shed a worn skin. Old stumps were broken up to make way for school bus parking. A cluster of mottled gray fingers clutched the base of one; a toe pointed skyward against another. I’ve never seen fungi Dead Man’s Fingers in the flesh before today. Makes the delicate jewelweed blooming in the floodplain that much more brilliant in contrast–but what a thing to see.