If Schrodinger opened all his Christmas presents and left an empty box on the floor, his cat would jump in it. I guess that’s the only thing we ever know for certain about Schrodinger’s cat. Because if Schrodinger cares at all about his Christmas tree, he’s going to tape that cat in the box good and tight. And then nobody will know a darn thing about it.

Schrodinger developed his famous boxed-cat thought experiment in order to point out the absurdity of some of the ideas floating around the new field of quantum mechanics. Some were positing that subatomic particles must exist in all possible states at once and remain that way until the instant they’re observed. He tied the viability of a cat to the state of a radioactive atom and suggested, chuckling to himself, that the cat must be alive and dead at the same time and wouldn’t resolve one way or the other until someone opened the box and had a peek. Which is silly. It could just have a little kidney infection. Even Schrodinger thought this was silly with regard to cats. The problem is that some things that are very, very, very small don’t act according to Newton’s laws. Not cats. Kittens, maybe.

It doesn’t have anything to do with physics, but I’ve always subscribed to the notion that unobserved things might not even exist. One doesn’t want to go about sticking one’s head in the sand–even ostriches don’t do that–but I no longer feel an obligation to be aware of every last crappy thing that happens in the world. In the course of a life there’s enough crappiness to go around and I don’t think I need to be exposed to all of it. With that in mind I’m putting off a trip to our cabin.

Trunks of two of the three trees that aimed at the cabin

We do need to go to the cabin. We haven’t been in three months and by this time it’s possible the only thing holding it together is mildew. Worse, there might be a tree on top of it. That’s actually likely. There’s nothing but trees around there and there’s nothing much keeping them up except force of habit. We’ve had a ton of rain lately. This turns the soil into pudding. The trees, which are more than 200 feet tall, don’t actually have a very deep go-it-alone root system. They’re not libertarians. They band together in more of a co-op. Given a little push, like, say, the recent great winds that have accompanied the recent great rains, they’ll go down like bad drunks. Bunches of them at once.

This is such a likely scenario, in fact, that we pack up and leave when it’s been wet and gets real windy around there. One time three massive Douglas firs came down right alongside the cabin and just nicked the fascia board on the corner. They were stacked up like cordwood on what used to be our deck. If I had been inside at the time they came down, the authorities would have found me stone dead in a puddle of pee.

Anyway right now the cabin is unobserved. It could be alive or dead. I like to imagine it’s still standing. I’d hate to think of it all smashed to kindling just because I had the temerity to go have a look.