IN OTHER WORDS: Devastating

The brief, devastating wind event — part of a storm system that ravaged the South Shore last Sun-day — hit the town of Hingham like a meteorological bomb, destroying 20 trees on Main Street, and reminding human beings how vulnerable they are before nature’s rage. The microburst is a brief, contained temper tantrum, almost as if nature were going into a room to pound her fist against the wall. It is caused by rocketing downdrafts of cold air that slam into the ground and then bounce outward on a destructive path. Charlie Foley, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Taunton, likened the action to a snow blower, only much stronger.

The transformation from a leafy world of pristine lawns was disorienting, and had residents and TV crews out taking pictures and shaking their heads. Favourite trees were suddenly cast in the unseemly role of enemy. The danger is always there, of course, but people don’t like to think about it.

Now the microburst

— which sounds as though it should be something small and pleasant, like the cherry-flavoured centre of a candy — has affixed itself in the worry zone of many minds. But it is something to be respected as much as feared, and may also provide a welcome lesson in accepting what cannot be controlled.