Still Learning To See

No longer standing

Those who visit here know I love trees—touching them, learning about them, planting them, and, of course, photographing them—not, by the way, an easy task. I recently had a chance to look through my library and select some interesting images of trees that are no longer standing and thought I’d share them here.

Beavers, of course, depend on trees that are no longer standing, both for food—the cambium layer of the bark—as well as for branches to build their dams and dens with. This tree was recently felled and is in the very active process of being converted to food and building material.
A very different scale from the last image and a great distance away, this is a large Baobab tree in Botswana that, while still standing, will end up prematurely dead. The cause was repeated “tusking” by elephants who both mark their territory as well as eat the bark they shred off the trunk. Interestingly, without these trees large predatory birds would have far fewer perches from which to hunt.

Humans too have long depended on felling trees. The Robinson Sawmill first operated in 1803 in Calais, Vermont, and is the oldest such mill in the country. It is water-powered and the mill pond and the mill itself are in the process of being refurbished. It is always open for a visit and is very photogenic! It is hard to imagine how many trees were milled to timbers and lumber here, but much of it can still be found in older buildings in the area.

Some trees should not be cut for lumber or firewood, such as these Red Oaks on school property in Bath, Michigan. The 300+year old trees were nearly cut to help balance the school budget. Instead citizen outrage caused a change of plans and they are now part of an area right next to the school used for science study—such a valuable asset. Small pockets of old trees like these still exist in many parts of the state and country and their value is inestimable.

Trees fall for many natural reasons too, like this 36″ diameter White pine in Hubbard Park, felled by shallow roots, saturated soil, and a strong wind storm. The roots will continue to stand like this for years and serve to house various animals including various denning mammals and little Winter wrens who favor such habitat. I have seen some old standing roots with all the soil washed away but big rocks still clasped firmly in the roots ten feet above the ground. In Michigan, where millions of huge White pine were cut in the 1800s, the roots were pulled out to make farm fields and then lined up as fences around the fields.
Nurse trees provide a seedbed for a new tree as they decompose. In this case a Yellow birch is left suspended on “root legs” above the remains of a White pine stump. I’ve also seen nurse logs that provided a seedbed for a whole row of new trees.

This is all that remains, at least above ground, of a row of Sugar maples that grew for probably 200 years in a now long-gone stone fence row in Hubbard Park. Little by little the have decomposed providing the means for other trees to grow. I can look back in historic photos of this area when these trees were the only ones growing on the bare hillside, the active sheep pastures the fences surrounded.

One of the many reasons I love trees is they are a measure of time we can easily see and understand, whether by counting the annual rings, as our grandson is doing here, or watching them grow taller and taller, like the seedling Tamarack I planted when his father, our son, was just 3 years old—that tree is now fifty feet tall.
This entry was published on August 21, 2022 at 8:33 pm. It’s filed under Hubbard Park, John Snell, John Snell Photographer, Photograph, Trees, Vermont, and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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