Tag Archives: Trees

Favourite day

In late spring, we watch the different deciduous trees around our house slowly come into leaf, each type emerging when it is best for them. The first is always the willow, and the last is the red oak, which often still retains some leathery leaves from last year. It must have been explained to me in some biology class how leaves form inside a bud, but it still looks like a trick to me, like flowers coming out of a magician’s wand.

I noticed yesterday that the leaves on the birch and trembling aspen were quite large, but it was today that I was certain they were in perfect full leaf as it was a windy afternoon and I could hear the rustling of the leaves. This is by far my favourite day of the year, when I can once again hear the trees talking to me and to each other, to the birds and the sky, after a long winter of silent meditation.

The Christian God I was taught to both fear and worship has long ago slunk away to sit grumpily on a cloud after I ignored him for so long, while the Spirit of my choosing joyfully speaks to me through trees and birds and rocks and flowers. I am far happier in a forest than I ever was in a church, and the song of the leaves and the trees is the most beautiful sound in the world. How lucky I am to live surrounded by this choir.

Trembling aspen leaves, all perfect and new.

Ogham

David Sparks points out that the Mac special character and emoji list can be customized in some very cool ways. You can add dozens of sets, including divination symbols, Egyptian hieroglyphs, cuneiform, and the mysterious Glagolitic and Ugaritic. I added the ancient Celtic Ogham set, which I first learned about from Diana Beresford-Kroeger. An alphabet based on trees is thrilling to me.

Trees speak to each other through chemical and electrical impulses, and they speak to humans, too, but we are often in too much of a rush and too loud to hear them. Find the tallest tree in a forest some moderately windy day (don’t try this in a hurricane!), something that is waving gently back and forth like a birch or poplar, and press your ear to it. You might hear the wind through the branches, the creaks and crackles of the vascular system, the roots and leaves, all of it. Trees exist at a different speed than we do, rooted in one place, reaching high, making the best of where they have landed, providing shelter, feeding and drinking, sleeping and dreaming.

We live with hundreds of tall teachers.

Dorian

Just found notes I made while we waited for our power to be restored after Post-Tropical Storm Dorian (PTSD, which is what I had for a bit!). September flew by in a series of post-summer board meetings, keeping me from posting, so I shall post this post-haste!

  1. Power out from Saturday, September 7, 17:10 to Friday, September 13, 20:30.
  2. Internet outages: Saturday, September 7 ,17:10 to Tuesday, September 10 19:15, and Wednesday, September 11 09:00-20:00.
  3. I missed the Internet more than electricity.
  4. Our average electricity costs to this point in 2019 is $3.84/24-hour-day or 16 cents an hour. We ran our generator for a total 30 hours for those six days and we used 40 litres of gasoline, so that works out to .75 litres/hour. At a cost of $1.14/litre, our generator cost was about 85 cents/hour or (if we had run the generator 24 hours a day) $20.40 a day. Electricity is a really great deal!
  5. Plug-in carbon monoxide detectors with replaceable 9v battery backups are cheaper to purchase, but they eat batteries like crazy, so I will replace these units with a type with a 10-year non-replaceable battery.
  6. A chainsaw with a dull chain is almost worse that not having a chainsaw at all.
  7. After 15 years of faithfully putting on chainsaw chaps, even when I’m just doing a quick job, I found out they work incredibly well (see little white cut in photo below).
  8. Rainfall amounts Saturday, September 7 = 76 mm, Sunday, September 8 = 26 mm
  9. Asparagus ferns are the only wind-proof residents of my vegetable garden, even though they look the most fragile. Dahlias and sunflowers collapsed in the first hour of the high winds, even though they look the strongest. Lesson there to be more flexible in challenging conditions.
  10. It’s still very dark outside when all the orange and bright white street lights that have been plonked in the middle of the country are doused.
  11. A landline will not always work, despite the promises. This was a big surprise after hearing the message for years that retaining a landline in addition to a mobile telephone is important in case of emergencies as it will always work.
  12. Landline outage: Sunday, September 8 from approximately 09:30-14:00; Monday, September 9 from at least 05:30-14:30; Tuesday, September 10 from at least 05:00 – 10:45.
  13. Chicken eggs laid during outage = 24 (no electricity necessary!)
  14. Canadian Tire in Summerside sold an emergency order of 70 generators that arrived on the morning of September 9 by noon that day. Centennial Honda only had three chainsaws left on September 10, and were out of many parts. To make a fortune, corner the generator and chainsaw market before storms.
  15. CBC Maritime Noon should always be 2 hours, just like it used to be.
  16. Media people, including power company spokespeople, say “check our website for more information” a lot. It’s a reflex now, and one I don’t usually notice, except when I can’t access the Internet. Internet-connected devices and service are not affordable by everyone, nor can everyone navigate a computer, so they are left behind even when the power is on.
  17. Never seen before: round bale of straw floating down the river, bleach bottle that blew into our yard from somewhere.
  18. Injuries = 0. Trees on house = 0. Trees on power line to house = 1 huge spruce, still very much alive. Trees down in our forest = a lot more than at any other time in my lifetime, possibly because much of our forest grew up after the 1960 forest fire and isn’t that diverse (a lot of white spruce, poplar, and white birch). What looks to us like a big mess is the forest canopy opening up naturally to allow the next generation to thrive.
  19. I thought very little about the current US president, nor anything else, really. The world kept turning, I just worried about feeding my family, getting water, cleaning up the mess in the yard.
The colours of fall.

6 Days, 3 Hours and 30 Minutes Later

Starting at around 7:00 p.m. this evening, a nice crew from Ontario Line Clearing in Coburg cut the huge old spruce tree and branches that came down on our power line on September 7 during post-tropical storm Dorian. By 8:45 p.m., a line crew had our power reconnected. I thought we would be without power for a couple more days, but these hard-working people really came through for us. Thank you. I’m happy to put the generator to bed for a nice long rest.

What Nature Wants

I noticed last week the lily-of-the-valley at the end of our lane were in bloom. There is no sweeter scent in early summer, even though my plant book tells me they are highly poisonous. This morning I set off to pick some.

Many trees came down in wind storms last winter, some large ones that were very much alive (including one giant that just grazed the gutters on our house!). One completely blocked my path to the patch, but I figured I could just squeeze by it .

As I reached out to move a branch, a robin flew off, and there was the most perfect nest, about two feet off of the ground, containing three eggs. I hurried past.

Seems the flowers had hurried past, too, and were starting to turn brown, so I’d missed my chance. I snapped a quick picture of the nest on my way back, mother robin sitting nervously in a nearby tree. She started shouting, and her mate joined in. I sped off, and calm returned.

It is good forestry practice to not be active in the woods this time of year while birds are still nesting, and this nest is a good reminder of why. It would take me less than a minute with my chainsaw to cut this skinny spruce up so I could toss it aside. I should have done it in late winter, but something always kept me from it.

But, really, nature doesn’t want or need me to cut that tree. The green needles will turn brown and fall off next year. The lower branches will decay and snow will pile on top year after year, and the branches will snap off. In a few years, the trunk will be on the ground, and the insects and microbes would really take over. In a couple of decades, the tree will be gone, having nourished other plants and trees.

In cutting the tree, I’m shaping nature to suit my needs, and I need to always be mindful of that. For now, what nature wants is for those three eggs to have a safe home, and for me to walk around another way.

Perfect nest made of mud, straw, moss, birch bark, and seaweed

(Only as I am getting ready to publish this post do I realise my first two posts heavily feature eggs. I suppose a blog should have a theme, but I rather thought the theme would be “what I’m obsessing about right now.” Guess I’m taking the hatching of a blog rather too seriously!)