For the second time recently, the evening stillness was disrupted by the unmistakable sound of wood splitting and crashing to the ground. The first sound is like a gunshot, reverberating in the air. Then there is a rushing noise, as of wind through the leaves. Finally, a loud thud, almost like a distant sonic boom. This time, it was one of the two main branches of a tall oak at the end of the block. Luckily, it missed the utility lines, and it barely scraped a parked pickup truck. The branch was about four feet in circumference, and at least forty feet long. The broken end of it was crawling with the ants who had colonized it. The branch had been hollowed out as a result of the ant invasion. When ants invade an oak, rain water begins to leak into the tree, rotting the wood, making it easier for the ants to expand their space. It is an alarming sight to see an outwardly healthy branch utterly destroyed from the inside in that way. Even more alarming is the knowledge that these weakened branches can fall at any time, and they fall fast. Once you hear that crack, there are only seconds in which to escape. Had anyone been standing in the path of this branch, they probably would not have escaped. It is difficult to tell which of the many branches on the many trees is snapping until you actually see it. By then, it's too late. I'm going to be very much on edge during my walks, until the memory of this incident leaves my mind.