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What Can We Learn From a Fallen Tree That Got Back Up?

Christmas Tree
Illustration by Bloomberg View

Dec. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The little evergreen in the backyard looks like it will make it. Hurricane Sandy leveled it in October. Or rather, the neighbor’s 100-foot spruce, having been leveled by Sandy, leveled the evergreen when it fell. (In American suburbia, we still don’t know what sound a tree makes when it falls in the forest; we do know that it sounds like Armageddon when it falls in the backyard.)

After the storm, the uprooted evergreen slouched to about 40 degrees, looking like a shaggy cannon aimed at what remained of the fence.

It all seemed woefully unfair. The tree had only recently begun to look like a tree again. A few summers back, in another act of tree-on-tree violence, it had been severed by a 1,700-pound limb that fell sideways from an old oak. The evergreen wasn’t squashed, it was halved -- leaving a stumpy, squat shrub with a flattop. But it survived.

After Sandy, we pushed the tree upright, tying its trunk to a fence post to keep it from listing. We pushed the roots down, and scattered the dirt to give them something to cling to. Almost two months on, it seems to be working. In our darkest season, a patch of green remains. The sage says there will be growth in the spring. We think so, too.

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