AUTHOR’S NOTE: What follows is a re-post of an AP-style news story told from an unusual perspective. I offer it as someone who has long practiced just-the-facts-ma’am journalism and who will probably be doing so again on Sunday, when Hurricane Irene is expected to make a slow, rainswept and unwelcome appearance in my neck of the woods, which is known as New Paltz, NY.
I offer this story in the full knowledge that a hurricane is no laughing matter. But laughing matters are sometimes exactly what’s needed in the face of oncoming disaster. I re-discovered today that once you've finally cleaned the gutters of their burgeoning maple trees, battened down the barbeque grill and wrenched the umbrella from its station in the middle of the deck, there's very little else you can do, except wonder why you didn't stock up on D-size bateries and toilet paper on Tuesday, when you had the chance.
So, without further adieu and before the power craps out, I’ll shut up and file:
NEW PALTZ -- Trillions of tons of water poured down from the skies on parts of the drought-stricken eastern seaboard last night, nourishing untold numbers of trees and tomato plants, providing relief to millions of grateful tree frogs and disrupting, if only for a few hours, the spread of a colorful fungus that leaves a rusty splotch of color on very old rocks.
The downpour turned dry stream beds into raging cataracts, startling deer and foxes who had been sleeping in the beds. Schools of polywogs, long worried that their springtime transition to tadpolehood would be cut short, rejoiced. Water bugs were seen huddling in rotting logs and suddenly muddy embankments, patiently waiting for the streams to settle long enough for the dancing to begin.
Some streambeds complained that the waters had arrived too suddenly, stripping their beds of millions of tons of loose gravel and sand. The resulting run on their banks would take millennia to repair, they said. Possums and other bankers said the streams' complaints were accurate as far as they went, but, as one ground hog put it, "a raging stream is no stranger to hyperbole, especially after a good dousing."
Several mountain ranges, whose exposed faces are particularly susceptible to erosion, declined discernible comment. A colony of colorful funguses attached to those faces indicated they'll issue a press release on the controversy within the next several centuries.
Several calls to reach birds and their representatives went unanswered.
The rainfall was greeted with cheers by mountain reservoirs that had grown desperate for the only relief they understood. One reservoir, which asked not to be identified because of it had not been authorized to speak, said that several of its fellow reservoirs had been considering joining a 12-step program for the overly anxious "so that they could live their lives in peace, without always worrying about spillage."
The rainfall received high approval ratings among younger flora and fauna, many of whom described the rain as "refreshing" and "a great change of pace."
Several forest fires, however, complained the rainfall's unannounced appearance had forced the cancellation of several long-planned firestorms. Not surprisingly, the rainfall's polling numbers among such older, flame-favoring interest groups hovered in the low 20s.
In other parts of the forest, some senior trees blamed the rainfall for an outbreak of limb breakage. More seriously, falling limbs crushed an uncountable number of saplings.
Authorities reported that the trees and their surviving offspring had received grief counseling from cadres of concerned and sympathetic squirrels, many of whom had seen their own homes destroyed in the downpour.
Sources familiar with the daily struggle of life in the forest said that death was an accepted commonplace that plants, animals and geologic formations understood innately. Said one veteran squirrel/counselor "We get it. What's good for a tree frog isn't always good for a tree," noting that while few trees were killed in the downpour, "quite a few" tree frogs had been reported missing and were presumed squashed.
"It's all a question of scale, isn't it?" the squirrel said. "The sheer power of what goes on out here in the field, it makes you realize you have to sometimes set back on your haunches and look for the big picture and not get too wrapped in the details of your own little nest."