Earthquake in a Woodland

The earthquake damage near Sendai.    Photo by Jo Yong-Hak/Reuters.
  This morning I started my day by scanning through the 100 photographs of the destruction caused by the earthquake in Japan. I'm not a television watcher nor much of a newspaper reader these days, but I do check into the The New York Times online for "big" events such as the recent earthquake--now rated at 9.0.
   Most photographs depicted vast areas of debris--shattered homes, overturned cars, flipped planes, listing shipping tankers--and victims in line for water and supplies or sifting through the rubble of their homes and villages for someone or something. Viewing the images without the voices of the suffering residents or the news reporters necessarily inadequate commentary--provided the end-of-the-world soundtrack: silence.
   Even after 100 photographs, it is difficult to comprehend a tragedy of this scale and magnitude. The human brain seems incapable of grasping at the breadth and depth of this horror and how the years and decades ahead will unfold.
     Only one photograph in the hundred showed the impact of the quake in nature (posted above). There in a young woodland, amid the bare-branched trees and snow-covered earth is a dark and meandering crack. It follows the "natural" lines of creek, a river and its tributaries, a tree with branches, a bolt of lightning, leaf veins, human arteries or veins. It is a beautiful, peaceful photograph. The woodland looks unscathed, untouched. The word "damage" doesn't seem to apply. In a few months, the trees will bud, leaf-out, and resume life as if nothing ever happened. If it were only so everywhere else.

Click here to view the New York Times photographs.