Today’s philosophy question: if a tree falls in the woods, do you need to warn the public?
After nearly a month of temperatures over 95 degrees, my wife and I had a serious case of cabin fever this afternoon, so I suggested we go for a drive through Babler State Park, with its 800 acres covered with beautiful old-growth forests, campgrounds, and picnic areas. The heat and humidity were oppressive enough to leave the park virtually empty — we didn’t see more than a dozen other people in the hour we were there — and kept us in the air-conditioned car as we drove along at a leisurely pace, enjoying our surroundings. We stopped a few times to peer deep into the woods, with its grand array of trees, many grown tall, some broken and fallen.
That’s why we were surprised to see this sign posted in several places along the roadside…
Is it really necessary to warn visitors to a forest that there might be tree limbs scattered about, from storm damage or other natural causes? Could it be that the state’s lawyers insisted the signs be posted as protection against negligence suits, like the warning notices on Pop-Tarts that their filling will be hot after being toasted? Have visitors gone for a walk in the woods, tripped over a branch, twisted an ankle, and filed lawsuits that the state lost or had to settle? Because if they’re going to be that concerned about legal action, where are the warning signs about potential burns from using the barbecue pits in the picnic areas, not to mention the splinter-ridden picnic tables, and possible poison ivy patches? Those cautionary notices aren’t necessary, because life is full of assumed risk, and if you’re not willing to accept that, you might as well not leave your house.
On the other hand, that may explain why Babler Park was so empty today. It wasn’t the heat and humidity. It was log-o-phobia.