To start with, trees have always been special to me. The family plot I grew up on had many of them scattered about. We had a yellow delicious apple tree that made the best apples for an apple pie. Not a common variety, but one with slight residual sugars, crisp meat that baked down to true heaven in a warm pie served up with Tillamook medium cheddar and some vanilla ice cream. Nirvana…
Then there was the cherry tree. It was grafted with Bing, Queen Anne (which I think now are called Rainer…) and a third variety that was never quite what the Bing and Queen Anne delivered.
Then there was a peach tree. Sometimes it delivered… sometimes it held back a bit and only served up a few peaches. Every 3rd year or so it would have so many peaches that it would break the weaker branches off the tree. Go figure…
There was also an Italian plum. delightful. But on the North part of the property there was a Bartlett pear tree. Small in stature, but magnificent in production. Some of the best pears I’ve had the opportunity to sample came off that tree. Nothing like the hard fruit that is picked these days with the hopes that it will become over time, something softer and more succulent than a common apple… A pear off that tree was a truly wonderful gastronomic experience. The tree has since been removed. (Google Earth is an interesting tool)
We did have a red delicious apple tree, but it was something on the furthest northern part of the half acre yard that grew from a seed that a bird must have collected somewhere else and deposited on the ground with a bit of fertilizer. As you may or may not know, the best apple producers are trees that have been grafted from a good producer. To grow from a seed… usually results in an inferior apple. These were inferior apples. We never ate them, as they were small with very dense flesh, but we did let the apples fall off the tree and rot on the ground. Why not… and we had our reasons… As they rotted and fermented, they would produce alcohol as a by-product. Robins that would migrate through our area from parts farther North were keen on eating them. As they consumed the fermented, alcohol laden fruit, they’d become quite pixilated and stumble around like common sailors on a drunk. Interesting stuff that. I think it was always a favorite stopping place for them to forage. We always had Robins in the yard in the fall, so we left the tree for their food, and enjoyment. Wouldn’t you?
We also had a hazelnut tree that never produced nuts with meat inside. Being a female tree, with no male tree to fertilize it’s flowers… it was no wonder that it never produced edibles.
Then… there were several Douglas firs that I planted as seedlings and watched grow over the years. Two of them now are around 60 years old and have become quite the stately fellows.
There was a Madrone next to the hazelnut. Interesting bark that. Lovely tree that grew to be quite substantial over the years.
The tree that I remember the best was a Garry oak. It spread over most of the front yard. It had been there for perhaps a hundred years before the house was built next to it, and growing up it was always visible outside my bedroom window. A gentle giant it was. I am sad to say that someone who bought the house after the Frater clan left Lakewood where I grew up… cut it down. I assume it was getting old and diseased, (as if a 150 year old oak is anything but an adolescent…) but when I found that out it felt like a long time friend had been lost. The yard looks empty and pitiful without it.
I’ve always been fond of trees…
Some of the recent trees I have met recently:
This group of maples are on the Southern shore of Reid Harbor on Stuart Island in the San Juan archipelago. I met them last year when they were green and hearty and then later when they began to slow down their photosynthesis, cannibalize their photosynthesis aparati and collect those energy sources down into their trunks to store for the winter. This September I caught them as they were just starting that process again.
Now this is a bit of an odd duck. It is a red alder. Someone determined that it was a good idea to peel its bark off. It’s called girdling and usually results in the death of the tree. I’m not sure what the tree did to them to cause such an evil revenge. In this case, whoever the evildoer was, did not go deep enough into the cambrium. So… the tree is in the process of healing its dastardly wound. The new bark seems to be filling in and the tree may well survive. Interesting to see this just off a forest trail, and not in the path of a construction zone, a future home site etc.
Middle of nowhere essentially…
Now this is is an interesting sight. I’ve seen quite a few clumps of maples grow this way in the forest. It is usually a growth of 6 or 7 children surrounding a mother stump who provides sustenance as they are growing up.
This is a clump close to the last one, but quite a bit older.
Another clump of conjoined maples within the grounds of British camp
This is a dark and forboding sight that greets the hiker upon entering the Rainier Trail in Port Ludlow. The notches are hacked into the tree to support what are called springboards.
Once a springboard is placed, the lumberjack climbs up on it and hacks another notch or one up higher and places another springboard to provide a good perch to saw off the tree. This is an old fellow and was probably 500 to 800 years old or more when it met its demise… probably 150 years ago.
A grand dam of a red cedar… 1000 to 1500 or more years old. She’s been sitting there on what is now the Rainier Trail in Port Ludlow for millenea and somehow evaded the ax and saw…
I like this twosome. What were once two have melded into one. Two maples decided since they sprouted and grew so close together, that growing together would be simpler than going it alone. You can follow the split all the way down to the root system. Less bark to make etc. was probably a good compromise, and protection against the wind another. Where the two finally separate will always be a place where fungus and other creepies will try to grow and weaken them, but at this point they’ve been getting on fine for at least a century or more, perhaps two.
This is an interesting tactic that many trees take on to get their leaves up and out of the blocking leaves of other trees. Procurement of more light and energy is the driver.
It is not a very safe strategy. Just think of the stress that the lower trunk has to endure, particularly from wind that blows from left to right. So… why did it decide to grow that way?
The answer is in the tree that is growing behind it and too the left. It grew over a very old stump. The stump of the tree that was there 100 or more years earlier. The older tree that was blocking the light of the younger tree eventually was either logged or fell down in a wind storm. It was so long ago that you can’t trace where the tree might have fallen and integrated back into the forest floor. The smaller tree grew over the old stump. It is not as precarious as the Imperial Walker, but is still not a good strategy, nor is the closer tree that has such a nice swooshy trunk. Neither are set up to live as long as they might have if growing on firmer ground.
This is what will happen to the tree with the swooshy lower trunk. Based on its state of decay, this ancient stump has been like this for a very, very long time. It is easy to trace where the remainder of the tree fell and became a nurse log…
This one did survive a very long time, but eventually fell probably during one of the nasty gales that can blow in off the Strait of Juan De Fuca.
This is a friend of mine I call the Imperial Walker I alluded to earlier. A seed determined that the best way to get ahead in life was to rest upon and germinate on an old decaying stump to become a seedling. I’m sure there is a tree policy and procedure manual that suggests that such a proposition will most likely not stand the test of time. This tree is probably 20 to 30 years old. It will not reach an old age and will most likely topple within the next decade.
As the tree growing policy and procedure manual states… pick a firm spot to grow. You might be there for 1000 years. This one did not read the manual closely enough.
I’ve stopped several times for a few minutes, miliseconds in the life of a tree and put my hand on the bark of its roots to let it know I was there to give it moral support. It probably registered the “intrusion” 30 minutes after I’d moved on, but it most likely did register the event locked deeply into its treeness
Enough for now… I’ve many more tree people in my collection of tree people friends. Get to know them when you have some slow time. Sit among them. Talk to them. Touch them. Do no harm and move on.
They are sentient in their tree way and are ancient forms of life that our planet has been able to support…
That is all for now.