I drove through sadness

I drove through sadness today.

Tears from clouds and tears in ravaged river banks.

Tears, rips, and gashes. Gutted, graded and gored. Rutted, raked and ruined.

As I drove along Route 107 between Pittsfield and Bethel, Vermont for the first time since Tropical Storm Irene, I cried for my home state. Yes, I had seen the seemingly endless stream of pictures of devastation in the immediate aftermath, and I wept for Vermont then. But six months later, despite mind-blowing road and bridge repairs, to see the land so… so…wounded – it hurts.

It is raw. Scoured. The land torn open in gaping welts. And not even a new, white bandage of snow to cover its wounds. The pain of the land and its people exposed. Mud where trees should be, rocks where there should be grass. Houses once in a field teeter on the edge of cliffs. Or crumpled in a ditch. Farms grow nothing but silt and stones. Hillsides are mudslides. Trees are tangled masses of sticks. And the river…

The river runs through it all as if nothing is amiss. Barely restrained and rambling wildly in places, serenely in others, it is like a temperamental child, unaware and uncaring of the chaos it leaves in its wake.

And there, on his newly river-fronted property, a man standing alone, gazing over the water. What is he thinking, I wonder? Cursing God or Mother Nature? Thanking them for saving him and his home? Maybe he was feeling as small as I against the awesome power of nature, attacking so suddenly and so violently. But I believe he was crying for this land – I felt his sadness. It hangs in the air and descends with the cold rain.


P.S. Strength comes in the wake of a storm: “I do matter.”


2 thoughts on “I drove through sadness

  1. Beautifully written Joanna. Take comfort in knowing the river did what a river is meant to do. It is okay. The earth knows how to heal. It is we humans who need to learn how to live with the river, to understand its awesome power and where that power comes from and to let go of believing we can tell it what path to follow. The river follows its own path. I can learn much from rivers.

    • Yes, I know this is true, but it still hurts. The realization that we are so small and vulnerable (as I very suddenly did while sitting through Hurricane Katrina) is a lesson – an uncomfortable one, a good one…

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