KENT — Local residents joined forces recently to remove a large oak tree which, after being struck by lightning, fell completely across Route 7, blocking both the north and southbound lanes just north of the town where it intersects with Greenwoods Road.
It barely missed the live power lines and traffic in both directions came to a complete standstill.
An ear-splitting crack of thunder had followed the large flash of lightning and sudden downpour, which had been threatening to commence at any moment in Kent last Tuesday at around 4 p.m. As a series of car taillights ahead of me lit up, I braked to a complete stop, turned off my car and called 911.
As I emerged from my car, I noticed that other folks had done the same and were discussing what they might do to remedy the situation. After about 10 minutes, a man walked back to his vehicle and returned with a chainsaw. I chuckled to myself and commented to him that it would take 10 men with chainsaws to remove the tree.
He replied, “Every little bit helps.”
With the pull of the cord, the sound of the chainsaw filled the air. As the giant limbs began to fall from the tree trunk, those who had gathered began to haul the pruned limbs to the roadside and out of the way.
As the chainsaw whirred, more people joined in to help with the task at hand. A couple of spectators soon stepped in to help the group of workers and began hauling the foliage as well.
In a short while, Guy Mauri, owner and proprietor of nearby Spirit Horse Farm, suddenly appeared from his nearby property on a small bright red tractor with a two-prong forklift attached to the front, to remove the larger, heavier pieces of the tree trunk.
It seemed like everyone knew exactly what to do, what their part was in the job at hand. Everyone seemed to work together like clockwork — like a fine-tuned engine or well-oiled machine.
The mammoth fallen tree was in pieces in literally just a few minutes, and the bottlenecked road was clear for traffic to resume. Many passing through stopped to thank the volunteers for a well done job.
Just as with the recent pandemic, people were thrown together and without even knowing each other’s names or asking for anything in return, took the bull by the horns and did what had to be done, not because they had to, but because it was the right thing to do. It speaks volumes about us as a people and is an indispensable ingredient of what is known as the American Spirit.
As I pulled away from the scene, the sight where the tree had fallen slowly getting smaller in my rearview mirror, I noticed everyone who had stopped to help was gone — vanished.
With all of the celebration and fireworks of July 4 the previous day, it dawned on me that, yes, the fireworks and barbecue are all quite nice, but this is what being American is really about; reaching out and coming together to help your fellow man when the occasion arises. It is the foundation on which this country was built and is what makes America exceptional.
It is precisely what makes us who we are.