The Cover of Trees Seek Not, My Precious

OK, so we didn’t actually get a big storm in Ottawa on Thursday, although there was some loose talk of same.

The family flutter started with that little red-and-white cloud icon.


In this context “best” seems like an odd choice, but set that aside. The family riffers were off, by which I mean launched. One sibling helpfully offered advice from CBC News for those caught outdoors in a tornado:

Do not seek the cover of trees, which may fall down.

Good advice. I’d noticed the same thing — Trees may fall down — although happily not in the actual moments of our last big storm (which apparently doesn’t *mean* “last”) in May. These shots were taken within a block of our house. There’s a lot to be said for the great indoors.

Anyway, the sibling also noted that this advice — Do not seek the cover of trees — sounded Desiderata-ish, at least for those of sufficient age. Having that sufficiency of age, I got to thinking. What might its writer have done with tornado advice?

Go carefully amidst the falling trees
and remember what safety there may be
in the basement.

Fair enough. But wait, there’s more.

Avoid loud and dangerous storms:
they are vexatious to the body.

Exercise caution in your walks,
for the world is full of falling trees.

You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here,
but they have a right to fall on you.

The Government of Canada website also offers good advice.

In the event of a tornado, or if a tornado warning is issued for your area, it is recommended you take the following actions: Go indoors to a room on the lowest floor, away from outside walls and windows, such as a basement, bathroom, stairwell or interior closet. Leave behind mobile homes, vehicles, tents, trailers and other temporary or free-standing shelter and move to a strong building if you can.ย As a last resort, lie in a low spot and protect your head from flying debris.

Good advice, albeit in that long-winded style favoured by bureaucracies worldwide, whose principle seems to be: Leave no example/possibility uncited. The assumption seems to be that people aren’t smart enough to track that if a mobile home isn’t safe, neither is a tent. It makes you wonder why they didn’t cite all tent typesWell, I can see that a pup tent might not offer safe haven from a tornado, but what about this tunnel tent? No? This geodesic one, then? — or why they didn’t warn against lying in low, floodable spots.

Anyway, it’s not the sort of thing you have time to sort through in, you know, a tornado. To be fair, the Government’s website is likely not intended as emergency communication, and the adviceย ร  la Desiderata, while more lyrical, likewise lacks some urgency. That got me to thinking about whether other cultural icons might be up to the challenge.

Gollum, from The Lord of the Rings, saw enough disasters in his long life to have some sage advice, but somehow it all seems focused on what you can do to protect *him*.

The treess-es are falling:
Save my Precious!

Give us a safe place: I wants it.

Maybe that attention to self-care is how he lived so long. And that got me to thinking about how the similarly long-lived Yoda (he of “Do or do not. There is no try.”) might have worded his typically pithy advice for this situation.

Indoors go, if a tornado you see. Stop not.

If the structure is weak, stay not.

In a low spot lie, if outdoors you must stay.
The cover of trees seek not.

So, choose whatever suits your communication needs and preferences, and your temperament. Me, I’m going with a hybrid.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken trees,
it is still a beautiful world.
Storms matter not.


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11 Responses to The Cover of Trees Seek Not, My Precious

  1. barbara carlson says:

    Very clever!
    (John calls violent storms, “Nature’s pruning.”)

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – ๐Ÿ™‚ Many thanks. I think the National Capital Commission agrees with John. When trees fall (in the forest, heard or not), they drag them off the trails if necessary and then leave them to rot in place if possible.

      • barbara carlson says:

        Very important to let them rot — they provide all kinds of nourishment to the ground, not to mention little creations of all stripes.

        That storm brought down a huge tree where John has been sitting to paint, so he moved back to a previous one — his latest paintings of his old spot are better than ever. Looking at them, I feel I am IN the woods, surrounded by the woods — not looking in at them from the edge. As in — how did I get in here? — no path!

        Also, these fallen trees, with their wide upright root base, will be wonderful to paint in the winter — your dislike of winter notwithstanding. ๐Ÿ˜€

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Barbara – Yes, tidiness is not *all*. I will look forward to seeing his winter scenes. Briefly. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Barbara – Yes, even in forest management, tidiness is not *all*. I will look forward to seeing his winter scenes. Briefly. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Tom Watson says:

    Isabel, how creative you are, my precious!

    Thanks for both the advice and the inspiring words.

  3. Delightful! Although we lost power again for half-a-day, a night, and half-a-day, which has a biblical rhythm to it. Roofs were torn off buildings in Belleville, which is our go-to major centre. I begin to feel that the catastrophe memes used by the Weather Network in mildly inclement weather has summoned the ire of the lesser gods to teach the meteorologists a lesson. I can’t wait to see what their celestial equivalents come up with to correct the silly names for full moons.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Sorry about the power. My life grinds to a halt without power. How can I edit my photos, for goodness sake? As for over-reacting to things, it does sometimes seem like tempting the applicable gods.

  4. Ian Hepher says:

    Perhaps you could work into your next verse the apparent dangers of stopping under an overpass if you are driving, an action that I would have taken without hesitation had the opportunity .

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Ian – A new frontier: safety doggerel. I saw that headline about not stopping under an overpass and can only assume that it has to do with the potential for flash flooding.

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