The impersonality of nature comes across when half the crown of a perfectly healthy oak tree flies through the air and latches onto the upper roof of one’s house. One minute, the crown is plastic with life, its myriad leaves fluttering, swaying in response to the currents of wind; the next it is lifeless, and heavy as a stone. It falls with a thud loud enough to wake several neighbors at 4:30 a.m.
We moderns may “love” nature, but nature has no feeling for us. Once the tree comes to rest, and the roof beams have cracked into a crooked splintery mess, it’s hard to imagine matters being any other way. What ever one’s dream of summer, it’s smashed along with the superstructure of one’s house. To pretend otherwise would be another source of heartache.
On the other hand, our neighbors show a concern, an active charity, that band-aids over whatever momentary sense of loss my husband and I were suffering. Our neighbors are kindness, overawing our momentary absorption with things, with the bricks and mortar of everyday disaster. No one was hurt, we say sincerely yet mechanically, reminding ourselves of the rightful hierarchy: people over things.