The Blade Fell Off the Wind Turbine and Other Events

Karen Gross
5 min readAug 2, 2022

The image is of cracked eggs and the general mess they make, except to the extent that we make order out of chaos.

And so it was in Gloucester MA on Cape Ann. As you drive to my home, you pass a rotary where three (or is it four?) wind turbines rise up into the sky. I have mixed feelings about how they look and what they do to the landscape. And, it is not as though they can be missed.

But, that proverbial but…

They do signal that I am almost home (and climate friendly turbines twirl). I know I am on the right path and am somehow comforted by the display of metal against the sky. And then I climb into my wee perch I call home.


So, how do you explain the fact that a blade on one of these turbines literally fell off on Sunday morning? Thankfully. no one was hurt.

And, here’s the oddest part: no one has a clue as to how this happened. Blades apparently don’t just fall off wind turbines and for good reason. They are long and heavy and could severely damage people and property.

The idea of a turbine blade simply falling off is unimaginable. It reminds me though of the questions children often ask when they see and ponder things we adults don’t see/ponder. I can picture a wee child asking how those turbines do their thing in the sky. It’s like asking why planes don’t fall down from the clouds regularly.

And, then it struck me that there are lots of things in this world that are literally and figuratively falling off or falling down. And so, perhaps the tumbling blade is merely reflecting the state of the world.

I’m Not Cynical

To be clear here, I am not cynical; I see the glass as perennially half full. Even in bleak moments (which we all have), I try to see the upside and I proceed with hope. Perhaps this comes from my trauma work with groups and individuals; perhaps it is a reflection of the ways I have handled trauma (plentiful) in my own life.

But, when a blade falls down, it reminds me of other things falling of late. So, start here:

Roe v. Wade fell. Yes, we had a warning with the leaked opinion, but fell it did. And so did the rights of so many women in need; those rights have also been terminated by some states. There is an important vote today in Kansas to see how far we have fallen.

We have many folks fallen from COVID — in terms of death and long COVID and bouts of severe COVID. People are falling ill and many require medications and some require hospitalizations. And there are serious, unrelenting strains on our healthcare system, including the mental health of our providers — some of whom are falling down from stress and exhaustion and burnout, among other issues.

We have many students who have fallen out of school. They are no-shows, simply not enrolling or showing up to classes. And, this is occurring all across the educational pipeline. This is more than dropping out. This is not dropping in and the consequences to our nation are real. A Democracy requires an educated populous.

We have many relationships and people who have fallen. The stresses of the moment (is 28 months a moment?) have collapsed marriages, fractured families and damaged individuals who have turned to drugs and alcohol and suicide for relief.

We have fallen into weather disasters that have ruined many — people and homes. Ponder the floods in Kentucky and the fallen communities now resting in mud and water.

We have fallen soldiers in wars. We have fallen children in school shootings. We have fallen individuals in parade shootings. And by fallen, I mean individuals who have died, although many many more are permanently damaged.

The Hope I Hold

This is literally the hope I hold (and I give many away). It is a ceramic piece that neatly fits between my thumb and index finger. It reminds me that if we don’t have hope, we can’t more forward. Recovery from disasters of all sorts and the accompanying trauma rests on hope — a brief that there is a better tomorrow.

Now, hope isn’t always easy to find or sustain. We get hurt and damaged. We have horrific experiences. We lose loved ones. We fail at various efforts we undertake. All this is true.

But, from the shards and the broken pieces, we need to find hope. We need to design or find or create or encounter a pathway forward. Otherwise, we are mired in the past. Even in the midst of loss and grief, there is a future to be had and I am convinced that we are placed here on earth not to remain stagnant but to grow and if possible flourish and to try to leave this place better than we found it.

I wrote a piece about planting trees. For the most part, we plant them for the next generation because we will never see these trees reach their full potential. We plant them to enable us to move forward, to experience growth and to enable the next generation or two or three to continue a march forward.

In these recent months, we have lost legends like Bill Russell. We have lots parents of young children. We have lost friends (Colleen, I miss you). We have lost love. But, memories exist and roads forge ahead.

Yes, for reasons no one can yet explain, blades fall off literally and figuratively. One huge blade fell in Gloucester. The whys matter to be sure. But, objects falling reminds us of the opposite too — the need to stay attached and connected and twirling forward and generating wind (blades or not) in our proverbial sails.




Karen Gross

Author, Educator, Artist & Commentator; Former President, Southern Vermont College; Former Senior Policy Advisor, US Dept. of Education; Former Law Professor