Evergreen, ever growing

About 75 rings tell age and history
of the cedar, some years
wet, some droughty.

A few weeks ago we came home to a fallen tree across the driveway, not just any tree, it was the cedar snag that stood, dead as a door nail, for the 30+ years I have lived here.  Not particularly old, for a conifer, this tall tree towered above its surrounding, and living, neighbors, mostly Big-Leaf Maples and a few smaller cedars.  It was the look out of numerous birds and the convenience store for a variety of woodpeckers.  Many a fascinating bird sightings came from just looking up to the top of this cedar beacon.

a well used tree, the cedar snag came down
on a windy day

It began to lean a few months ago, but often trees lean a long time before falling, so though inevitable, it was still with sadness we saw this giant bird perch lying on the ground.  No doubt it will be missed by the resident woodpeckers even more than by us. Finally having a chance to see the tippy-top, it appears they excavated it down to a thin bit of wood, but it was the wet ground, causing the base to rot, that brought down the tall timber. Retired as a look-out and feeding station, it will now become firewood.

It is always with mixed emotions we decide to intentionally fall trees, but this winter it was with resolve we made the decision to do so. Our summers have been getting darker and darker, even on days when the rest of the NW might be enjoying sun.  Unlike children, trees do not noticeably seem to get taller, it seems to happen both subtly and suddenly. When I realized I could no longer hang clothes to dry, for the window of sun in our yard was less than a few hours, I looked up more. Accustom to blaming cloddy clay soil for our gardening challenges, I had failed to notice, until a few years ago, our sun seeking veggies were having a difficult time growing, even surviving, in the shade of giant evergreens.  The Douglas Firs had become sentinels whose job, it seemed, was to keep the sun out.

Aware of our woodsy surroundings, long ago I resigned to growing modest primulas, mugworts, and other shade “tolerate” flowers, but for decades I managed short season and cool weather veggies in a plot on the south side of the house.  Peas, lettuce, beets, and even some summer squash seemed to adapt to the short, but often intensely hot, mid-day sun (trees do hold the summer heat).  It was my own growing summer ‘blues’ that made me realize we had been engulfed by the firs surrounding us.  When I would go somewhere, anywhere, even the post office, I would notice there is SKY ‘out there’!

two giant Grandfather Firs frame the half moon

After saying good-bye and thanking them for their majesty and the warmth they will be providing as firewood, a few tall firs were fallen to open up sky to the garden and our own sun-seeking souls.

The first tree down showed some rot, so perhaps that was a good one to fall, before it fell in a less opportune place.  The next few seemed to fall almost gracefully, hitting the soft ground with more whoosh than thud.  As the last tree fell, an Eagle flew over, circling.

Though a wider window of sky now exists between the stands of the giants,grandfather firs that will never be taken down, ancestors of all others, the space opened by the fallen trees is barely noticeable.  Nature, the original succession planter and sustainability grower, has young trees behind, to the side, and in front of the ones that fell. They too will now thrive and grow with the added light.  We are not greedy, wanting only a bit more sun, and in love with the trees that surround us, this next generation of tall timbers will be here long after we are gone.

2 thoughts on “Evergreen, ever growing

  1. Pingback: Christmas | Huckleberry Wanderings

  2. Such is the nature of forest areas. Trees naturally will fall to make way for new trees or for other trees to grow. You’re just helping the process along, and saving your tomatoes in the process!


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