Photo Credit: Jennie Anne Benigas



June 2017

The ice storm that chewed through central Massachusetts on the night of December 11, 2008 was a multi-sensory event. Cracking limbs sounded like gunshots; families were herded onto a busy firing range and held captive. Thuds that followed loud bangs shook the ground with frightening authority. Our little house is surrounded by 80 foot trees that I considered benign and lovely, a canopy to keep us cool in the summer, nesting places for the hawks. On December 11th, they became a menacing and unpredictable presence.


Judy’s Journal, 2009, “Response to the Ice Storm: A Collaboration.”

Ice and Wind: Mother Nature Speaks (Again)

Dear Reader,

It is ironic that exactly eight years later, I am composing another blog about some of those same trees. The 2008 ice storm brought down parts of pine and deciduous trees. John and I made art out of 200 logs by priming and painting the tops, then arranging them into colorful stacks and meandering rows. They are beautiful, especially in autumn when plants die back and circles of blue, peach, purple and red rest in our field until the snow buries them. True, they are slowly rotting and will someday collapse and disappear, but until they do, we love seeing them.

The morning of March 2nd was another story. High winds swirled around us, twisting the brittle pine trees’ trunks. As I sat at the computer, a loud crack sounded and the house shook. The torque of the wind had snapped an 80-foot pine tree and sent it through the garage roof. The formidable treetop thudded onto our deck. If John had stepped out onto the deck 3 seconds earlier, he would have been killed. We were very lucky that day.

Fast forward to our decision to take down 19 pine trees, several of which were either diseased or dead and scheduled for future removal. The toppled tree was one of the healthy ones. It was not an easy decision to make. The planet needs more trees, not fewer. We were unhappy to do it and are now planting new trees and shrubs (no pines included).

The fresh stumps both admonished and beckoned me. At first, I thought to respond again by painting each flat surface. However, the beauty of each stump required something different to honor the patterns created by their irregular growth rings. I filled water bottles with brown stain, then red paint and moved from one to another, squirting patterns on their patterns.

It was a sad ritual, even as a happy energy pulsed through my veins because I was making art.