Thursday, June 06, 2013

Our Forest Favorite

We noticed a tree service employee consulting with a neighbor for several hours one recent morning. When beautiful wife Sandy walked over to learn what was going on, he tried to sell his services to “improve” our part of the wooded area that runs along the back of our properties.

It was no sale. His first suggestion was to remove a stately hickory growing six feet from one corner of our deck. It shades a good part of our house as well as about a third of the deck. It’s a nice cooling neighbor to have nearby on hot summer days, and a great place for birds to perch as they make sure all is safe on the way to Sandy’s feeders. The tree expert thought it was a hazard that might fall on our home. Sandy told him we’d take our chances.
Old stub well-dressed for summer

The next, and last, suggestion, Sandy said, was removal of “that ugly old stub of a dead oak,” which is clearly viewed through my office window. “What?” I shouted. “That’s the neatest thing in our woods.”

“I knew how you’d react to that plan,” Sandy said. “So I thanked him for sharing his ideas and told him we might get back to him sometime.”

That “ugly old stub” actually is quite lovely this time of year with a luxurious covering of vines. It may be dead but it is part of life for many lively critters. It’s great fun to watch gray squirrels chase each other in and out of the stub’s several cavities. Usually the participants in the games are their namesake color, but now and then a mutant “black” squirrel joins the party. A rarer thrill is watching a pileated woodpecker methodically developing a new cavity.

A variety of insects carry out less elegant, but perhaps more useful, activities in the hollowed-out base of the stub. They provide a good lesson in how Mom Nature replenishes her domain by converting dead residents to enriched soils where new generations will thrive.

The insect work and advancing decay eventually will fell our old stub. As long as I’m around to marvel at the forest life it enhances, nothing will be done to hurry that day.


Kay said...

I think it's lovely that you're letting nature hold its course. On the other hand, it's good to listen to the experts too. On the other hand, they told us that our chestnut tree would be OK a while longer. It fell... luckily away from the house, but it could have been lots worse.

Tom Sightings said...

I like your approach. But your old stub looks a lot better than our old stub, which was overhanging the driveway where B parks her convertible -- so (I'm sorry to say) we cut it down. said...

I'm happy you saved the lovely old stub. You will be rewarded with visitors who appreciate the bounty found within. Dianne

PiedType said...

I won't give most tree services the time of day, particularly the door-to-door operations. They'll cut down everything in sight if you let them. They dehorn instead of properly prune. A chainsaw and the willingness to use it doesn't make you a tree expert. Nobody touches my trees without arborist certification or something comparable.

Wish I had a stand of trees like yours.

Jhawk 23 said...

It IS nice to let nature take its course, when (as appears to be the case on your property) whatever falls will affect only you.

We've got lots of trees large and small (14 on our little quarter-acre) but I really wish that tree "service" guy of yours would come around here and offer my neighbors some help: On one side, a row of 60-plus foot white pines planted right on the property line, the most distant of them within 20 feet of my house.

On the back, several 100-foot tulip poplars and an equally large chestnut oak - but these fortunately sit on a slope and I tell myself they'll fall downhill on the folks who own them.

Around here, we have one company named "SavATree" but the only thing I ever see them doing is "saving" them by cutting them down.

Dick Klade said...

Unfortunately, as Jhawk points out, many property owners with good intentions cause future problems by planting the wrong trees in the wrong places. It's hard to envision the mature size of a tree when we put that three-foot-tall youngsters into the ground, but some study and a look at mature trees in the area could head off lots of bad situations before they develop.

Dave Tippets said...

You remind me that I live on the prairie now and only find naturally occurring stumps when I hunt in the cottonwoods along the South Platte. As per your previous essay, I recall that Forrest Church spoke at the memorial for victims of 9-11. His father shook my hand when he visited my school when I was in the second grade. I liked Sen. Church, even if his handshake was pretty weak as handshakes went in Bear Lake culture at the time.

Bob Lowry said...

A few years ago we had to part with a 40 foot pine tree that was within 15 feet of our house and our neighbor's garage. It was messy due to the needles and sent roots under the foundation. While casting excellent shade, it was time to go.

We replaced it with a form of ash tree that will top out at 25 feet and is much more water appropriate for the desert than the pine.

Like you note, we did quite a bit of research before making the change. We are happy with the decision.