Out of Sight Out of Mind

Roots wreak havoc

Roots wreak havoc

It was barely daylight when I came into the front yard and saw water gushing through the gravel and running in a broad sheet to the street. It was a main water line break, a disaster in the desert. Our household water supply flowed down the street like a river through the long night hours. We had to bail out the utility box to get to the valve and turn the water off, and then we started digging. Under the gravel and the soil we found thick roots growing around the water line, pinching until the PCV pipe popped from the pressure.
When I look at a tree or any plant, my perception tends to stop at the ground level. I have a hard time keeping in mind that a tree’s root system is generally equal to the size of the plant that shows. It took us a couple of hours and a trip to Home Depot to repair the broken pipe, but the experience has lingered. In fact, I’ve become a little obsessed with this notion of invisible forces that impact our lives. We had to cut a couple of large roots to release the pipe and we joked about whether the tree would fall over as a result. Of course the roots of the Palo Verde tree reach out in every direction, and the hole we dug exposed only a small number of the total. Yet we have trouble believing in those other roots because we can’t see them.
What other invisible forces are at work in our world? Positive thought, electromagnetic energy, air pollution, calories, gut microbes, greed, grace, charity, joy. These things exist and we know they exist even though we can’t touch them or hold them. Environmental historian William Cronon offers, “We make that which is invisible visible through story”. Unseen forces are often underestimated or even forgotten….until something either breaks or blossoms. As we surge forward in lockstep with the latest technology, may we save space in our minds for storytelling.


One response to “Out of Sight Out of Mind

  1. What a great take-away from a potential disaster….you rock!

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