The Wreckage

Nancy Daley
4 min readFeb 4

Coming home to a destroyed landscape.

The live oak in our care

While I was away enjoying my best friend, the Pacific Ocean, great food and old friends, my hometown of Austin — along with much of the south — experienced a cataclysmic ice storm.

Dubbed “Treepocalypse” in memory of the Great Snowpocalypse of 2021, this recent storm failed to deliver nice pretty fluffy white snow. Instead it coated our world with a thick layer of ice, sending motor vehicles helplessly floating along the roads like the dry ice pucks from Physics class — remember the ones they said would go on forever if there were no such thing as drag? Or resistance? Or gravity? Something.

Because we are blessed with a vast array of oak trees in many varieties, now we are left with broken limbs, shattered trees, and even uprooted giants smashing through roofs, cars, and fences. People reported lying awake at night for two nights, just listening to the shotgun cracks of trees splitting to the ground.

Many of our oaks are too stupid to shed their leaves in the fall. Instead they hang onto them through the winter, creating for us a spring leaf blizzard as if to remind us of how raking and mulching are supposed to be done. Evidently the trees believe us to be too stupid to remember how to clean up after them if we only get to do it once a year.

One consequence of this battle of the minds is that our oak trees all held onto about a billion leaves to be thickly coated with ice.

Usually we will have a freezing night followed by a thawing day, but not this time. As the freeze continued, leaves and twigs and branches and trees began to fall.

A neighbor’s yard: what much of Austin looks like.

When I took my first walk with Ella yesterday, tree parts still lay on the ground amid mounds of glistening ice cubes. Parts of the city are still without power.

My neighborhood is fortunate, as we have underground power wire things and even a tiny sewage treatment plant nearby. This means we rarely lose electricity. In 2021 we did without running water for several days, which wasn’t exactly fun; but if you can stay warm you can keep your spirits up tolerably well. I felt very badly…

Nancy Daley

Artist, food-worshipper, grouch, retired psychologist and uni lecturer (Human Sexuality). Currently running for Queen of the Universe.