I spent the first half of my adult life in Vermont; covered bridges like this one in Taftsville, a stone's throw from a dear friend's home, dot the landscape and form a vital connection between the hundreds of small communities there.
So it's been hard to watch the videos and photos coming out of that state in the wake of Irene's devastation; we just never expected Vermont to be even affected, let alone so hard hit.
As you might expect, we still have lots of very special friends in that part of the world -- in fact we hope to be visiting many of them soon, when we head east for my father-in-law's 90th birthday. So I've been contacting them to enquire, hoping things aren't as bad as the news and youtube videos make them appear.
... and I posted some of the photos I've been finding on Facebook this morning, because I'd been noticing that lots of people didn't seem to be taking the devastation seriously. In response to that post, one of our closest friends wrote the following:
"Over much of the state whole towns and businesses suffered major flooding and/or washouts, houses washed away, communities cut off by complete washouts of major arteries and bridges. That amount of rain in 12 hours over the entire state just overwhelmed the watersheds of all the secondary rivers. It's very sobering."
Sobering, indeed -- and definitely a reminder of the fragility of the world as we know it: how easily the balance can be tipped. Life was never easy in Vermont: it can be challenging to make a living there, the winters are painfully cold, those charming old houses expensive to heat, and the summers there can be blisteringly hot and humid, with an unfortunately short growing season.
But it is also incredibly beautiful, and a lot of their money comes from the "leaf-peepers" -- tourists who tootle around the countryside in October to enjoy the glorious foliage. Those tourists may find their travels considerably more challenging this year, and I'm concerned that income already taxed by this difficult economy may be further decreased by the dual whammy of unexpected repair bills and a dearth of tourists.
As John Cage so often used to say, putting his fingers to his forehead on Ally McBeal (yes, we are still slowly working our way through those reruns) "I'm troubled."
When will those naysayers out there GET that climate change is endangering ALL of us?
The good news (despite one of the comments you'll see in the video below) is that this beautiful bridge survived -- but look here to see the battering it was taking -- not just water, but logs and propane tanks... it's going to be an incredible mess to clean up.