Wednesday Vignette – just too much

This past week, I witnessed just how much weight my poor tree could handle before it broke. Twice. Both noisy cracks shattered the dark stillness of the frozen night. We ran outside, of course, but it wasn’t until the next day that we could truly assess the extent of the ice covering it.

The next day, I snapped this photo of just how encased in ice my poor tree was.

You can see here just how overloaded the tree was. In this particular case the burden was ice. But regardless of what the stress is, there is a limit to how much abuse any living being can tolerate, before it reaches its threshold of pain, and it breaks. To say that the strong survive is a bit of a misrepresentation – a platitude of sorts. When enough pressure is applied, we all fold. So did my tree. Those of you who saw my last post on the ice storm we just had, saw the first of the two branches to break off. The second one was quite a bit larger. It was the slow thaw that systematically and progressively weakened it, causing its eventual fracture. There is a lesson here. When we pressure the weak to the point of collapse, the collective weave of which we’re all a part, ruptures – to the detriment of all. There is another storm rolling in tomorrow. Let’s all look out for each other. Remember, before the sudden break, the tree looked just fine, if a bit weighted down. Those strained symptoms are pretty much universal. This Holiday Season – be sure to talk to each other. Reach out to friends and neighbors, and ask how they are doing. Offer assistance and kindness where you can. Even a little support and warmth might help prevent a break. It’s a cold, cold world out there.

Broken Magnolia branch


About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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25 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – just too much

  1. We once had a plum tree that broke under the weight of fruit

    • annamadeit says:

      Yes, it’s had a rough year. 😦 Still standing tall, though, and it’s still beautiful. I really love it. Maybe in a few years it will have filled back in some. I’ll give it some extra compost to help it along…

  2. bergstromskan says:

    I could say “Poor us”, but as Anna says “We have each other”, maybe with some effort, some change in focus-But Together We Can

  3. Peter Herpst says:

    I’m so sorry to see such a beautiful tree collapse. You’ve turned this into a great lesson for us all. We do, indeed, have each other! Sending you warmth and support!

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks Peter. Happily, it’s not all bad – it’s still a beautiful tree. But those kinds of events serve as good reminders that even the mightiest are fragile at some point.

  4. FlowerAlley says:

    I feel for the tree and I know what you are saying.
    Stress kills.

  5. Tina says:

    So sorry about your tree–I’ve had the same happen in ice storms here in Austin. On the bright side, you and yours are safe and it might prove an opportunity to try something different. Stay warm!

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks Tina! The tree is still magnificent – it is twice the height of our two-story house, and still looks fantastic from the right angle. I think of it as our Guardian Tree, but good grief – it’s had a rough year, so far. You are absolutely right – we are safe, warm, and fed. What else can one wish for… right?

  6. Evan Bean says:

    Poor tree. But you’ve turned it into an excellent lesson. My WV is mixed in with a larger post again:

  7. Oh Anna, you find the best lessons in everything. I had to stop in Kennedy School yesterday and was sad to see all the broken bits under their evergreen Magnolias, those poor trees! Oddly my WV also features a Magnolia, but it’s fun…

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh no, not theirs too… Oh well, I tolerate Mother Nature’s pruning so much better than that klutz I was stupid enough to hire this past spring. It sounds silly, but I still go out there once in a while, hug my tree, and apologize for being a dumbass. Makes me think of Shel Silverstein’s ‘The Giving Tree’. I’ll do my damnedest to ensure it won’t ever get THAT bad.

  8. I’m so sorry to see your beautiful tree break apart like that, Anna. I like to believe that what’s broken can be fixed but I know that, when some things are broken, repair isn’t possible.

  9. annamadeit says:

    Thanks, Kris – maybe it’s akin to an amputation of a limb. Appearances will be forever different, but its soul is still there. I still cherish my tree and the cool shade it provides. I will try to be a better friend to it in the future. 🙂

  10. Alison says:

    I hope the coming weather isn’t a repeat so soon after what you’ve already suffered down there in Portland. It looks like all we’re getting here is cold. My picture today is from before our frost, of a friendly garden visitor. It’s here:

    • annamadeit says:

      I hope so too, Alison. Don’t really mind the snow, but the ice is scary. Meanwhile, I’m glad I’m not in the Midwest right now. Fingers crossed for benevolent winter gods…

  11. hb says:

    You were able to pull some wisdom from a distressing situation. A good lesson that we can all learn from now…thank you!

    Here the Magnolia grandifloas are “laced out” to avoid our Santa Ana wind damage–would that help in the case of ice storms? I hope your next storm is not so destructive. We are looking at rain tomorrow night, which will be a thrill–if it happens.

    • annamadeit says:

      Hope you got your rain, Hoov! It wasn’t so much the rain as the weight of the ice that did it, but yes – I think thinning it out is a good idea, considering the kinds of storms we’ve had in the past few years.

  12. Alyse says:

    I love the way you think!

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