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Did It Splash?

July 18, 2012
Wetzel Chronicle

Most of us have heard the question posed, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" This question is meant to provoke contemplation. If no one was there was there a sound? I went on line and found that a great deal of thought went into the question and the philosophical answer is, "I believe it does make a sound. Whether any one is around is irrelevant to the tree that grew for many years and fell making a thud as it came to rest on the earth."

If I burst your bubble of Zen thought, I am sorry I gave away the answer to the age old question. But it is important to know that the storm a couple of weeks ago most likely blew down more trees in a few minutes than had happened in the area in many years. So many trees fell the sound must have been deafening. Over the last couple of weeks I have spent several hours in the woods near my home and that of my brother's surveying fallen trees. I have found that the Cherry and Sycamores trees seem to have taken a real beating in the storm.

The falling trees damaged homes, power wires, cars, and trucks along with a variety of barns and out buildings. In a few minutes, trees that may have stood longer than most of us have been around came crashing to the ground and created hardship and monetary losses for great many that live in the area.

You may be asking yourself, why is he so interested in the trees the storm damaged. Well, the fact is I not only took a survey of the damage in the woods, I spent some time surveying a small portion of Fishing Creek.

Our grandson was spending time with my wife and I last week and I decided to take our kayaks and paddle around the part of the creek we called Horse Shoe Bend from my days growing up in the 1960s. I wanted to spend an afternoon with him showing him the fine art of noodling for catfish under rocks, catching bullfrog tadpoles, and showing him the fresh water mussels that live in the shallow riffles.

I also wanted to see the damage to the trees along the creek near the twin bridges out Route 7. So on a warm day last week we made our way to the creek and launched our kayaks. Before we even got started I realized the trees along the creek had taken a real beating in the storm. In fact, it was hard to find a place to enter the water that was not littered with tree branches.

I could see several full trees lying across the creek just up from where our trip started. Looking further down the creek I could see it was completely covered in a couple of places by fallen trees. My intentions were to show my grandson the creatures that lived in the water and along the water's edge. Unfortunately in the part of the creek we started our adventure, it was near impossible to do.

We finally managed to work our way down stream around the fallen trees and branches that covered the water's surface. In some places, we had to drag our kayaks over the fallen trees that blocked the slow moving waters of the summer stream. After a making our way to open waters my grandson asked, "Papa, what will happen to all these trees?" It was a question I had already asked myself.

In the mile and half that we made our way down the creek it was completely blocked in several places. I did not count all the tree tops and limbs lying in the shallow waters of the creek. My adventure with my grandson had given me cause to wonder what would happen if a summer storm was to move all these trees down the creek in a sudden rush of water? If this many trees are lying in the water in this short stretch, how many could be in the creek from its head waters down to the Brooklyn railroad bridge with its support column in the middle of the creek?

Much attention is being given to the trees and damage on land. But I somehow wondered if a sudden rain comes could the legacy of the wind storm from a couple weeks ago bring further problems for the community with downed trees along the miles of slow moving creek?

I also talked with someone who lives along Proctor Creek, I learned of fallen trees along that stream also. I wondered what if Doolin Creek had any fallen trees? Did it also have trees lying in the stream bed waiting to cause possible difficulty in the future? Perhaps after the problem of trees on the land is resolved there may be someone to give attention to the trees in the streams in the area before rising waters collects them.

I was not able to get my grandson to feel for catfish among the rocks in the creek, but I did get him to wonder about the fallen trees and the possible hazard they could create. I pointed out the elderberries growing and told him of storms that often come with their berries at this time of year. In this time of summer storms, I hope that Mother Nature does not send all those trees down the creeks all at once.

If a tree falls in Fishing Creek and no one hears it, does it make a splash? I hope someone will at least listen for the sound of an approaching elderberry storm Thru the lens.



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