The sounds of chainsaws fill the air in my east Memphis neighborhood.
Yesterday, Mother Nature put on quite a display of destructive force in my part of the city... and today is a day for clean up.
Memphis is a city filled with many large trees. Many first time visitors to the city are taken aback by the urban forest found in our more established neighborhoods. In the wake of destruction we often hear news reporters refer to them as "hundred year old" trees, but realistically most of them are not that old. Most of the older ones in my neighborhood are closer to fifty... a few may be sixty. The houses in my area were built in the early to mid 1950s, and the trees were planted after the subdivisions were developed. There was no such thing as a "conservation subdivision" in the 1950s.
You may have seen some of the storm damage that occurred in the region on national news broadcasts, but they really haven't shown much from what I've seen. No tornado did this, at least not in my neighborhood, just straight line winds.
The following is just a sampling of the destruction, all within about a mile of my house.
Out of respect for the homeowners, I chose not to photograph some of the more tragic scenes of devastation. The house in the picture above is really minor damage compared to others. There are several houses, all in my neighborhood, that were mostly destroyed by massive oak trees that fell on them.
If it wasn't for the trees, Memphis wouldn't experience such destruction... but the trees are one of the more redeeming qualities of this city for a naturalist. If it weren't for the trees, this place would feel very sterile.
I have two huge Willow Oaks on my property. The trunk of the one in the front yard is approximately three feet in "diameter at breast height" (or DBH in forester lingo). The one in back is just a bit larger at approximately forty-five inches. They're both big enough to crush a house... my house. I feel very fortunate that they stood strong in the winds. I will be hugging a tree today... twice actually... but I don't really consider myself a "tree hugger."
In the midst of the destruction in my neighborhood, a serendipitous survivor emerges...
This mother American Robin (Turdus migratorius) and her nest (probably with eggs), precariously perched in a Pecan tree, somehow survived the storm. How this tiny clump of twigs, grasses, and trash managed to endure gale force winds... I will never know or understand.
You might call it a small miracle... I call it serendipity.