Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tentative steps

I'll get back to Helsinki story soon but today I noticed something that made me laugh and feel a little sad. I haven't felt much like laughing for a few days, long enough that maybe I was startled by the chuckle turned giggle coming from my mouth. We had lived under the threat of imminent death from falling ice and snow that was packed on the roof and flowing glacially toward the walking path below. A person at the residency shoveled out a new path that would be clear of the death from above that was a 3' snowpack preparing to fall. The path was pushed as far from the building as possible which meant it was near the boulders that form the hill a few yards from the building. Because of its placement, it had a few small trees with whippy little branches that protruded into the walking path and would catch on your coat and poke you in the eye when you walked.

I had a serious internal struggle with what to do about the trees. First, I wanted to live and let live. It was not an ideal situation but I wasn't about to cut anyone's tree down. However, I noticed that I was mentioning the inconvenience of being smacked on the face by tree limbs the 10 - 20 times / day I would make the walk from my apartment to the main residency building. I began to devise plans that would tie the limbs back without hurting the tree. I even brought twine to my room and tested a couple of ways of tying off the limbs. The slippery surface of the limbs prevented the synthetic twine from catching on well enough to be able to tie them back securely enough to withstand a strong wind. So I took my experiment back inside. I thought of wrapping the trees with twine or fabric in an effort to bind them, just until the snowy path melted enough that we wouldn't need to walk through the branches any longer.

This morning, I awoke, after only about 3.5 hours of sleep, and decided to get to work. I went off to the woodshop to cut wood. I walked the path 5 or 6 times without noticing, or perhaps before the event actually occurred, before I realized someone had ripped the trees apart. This made me laugh for 3 reasons: 1. Either someone experienced the tree whipping for the first time and thought they didn't have to put up with that and took charge of the situation or 2. Someone was attempting to make those of us who walk this path regularly more comfortable, but mostly 3. I didn't notice until I'd walked the path several times. Number 3 is important to me because of the noticing and not noticing that occurred. Today is the first day in many days that I've noticed something funny. Today, an external event brought me to laughter. I feel sad that the trees were mangled in the process but grateful to whoever added that small bit of comfort, or more accurately, removed that small discomfort from my path.

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