Friday, March 16, 2007

Yesterday's Big Trees

In the city, they have defenders, these huge old cottonwoods do. Perhaps you remember that we had a few days of tree sitting at Willis and McCormick when officials planned to drop these creekside survivors. The tree sitters went away when it was decided to call in the experts for drastic surgery instead.

Problem, said the city, was that a big limb might fall any day, possibly injuring a car or pedestrian. Necessitating law suits, of course. Unfortunately, the patients died.

Out in the countryside life is far more Darwinian. As I walked through the brush from our car to the big picnic cottonwood down at the Santa Maria River crossing last weekend, I came across evidence of yesterday's big trees. Furthest gone was this mouldering ruin.

This fellow was still standing, but you can see fallen companions on either side. I wonder what was the cause: drought, insects, mistletoe (yes, I saw it for the first time on a cottonwood), man, old age. Who knows. But they do look of an age.

Now here's a true survivor. I did see one or two small branches about to leaf out. The huge bole is about four feet high and close to that in diameter.

Note: seeing all this dead wood reminds me that we have just had our first two wildfires in the national forest. That's at least one month to six weeks earlier than the usual start of fire season. One of our local bloggers recounts her experience living in one of the local enclaves in the pines; read it here.


Anonymous said...

Hard to see the old growth go, but so is live in nature. As a kid I recall driving through a giant redwood tree that had a hole cut out, big enough to drive a car through (In California) The tree has since died.

Granny J said...

I liked that decaying tree lying on the ground, where it is no doubt sheltering critters, providing food for fungi and otherwise adding to the soil. As for the California redwood whose picture was in all the old kiddie encyclopedias, I didn't realize that it was gone.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid it is gone but there are others. I found this on a web search.

The famous drive-through tree, the Wawona Tree, was a giant sequoia in Yosemite National Park. It fell over in 1969 under a heavy snowfall. There are three coast redwood drive-through trees on the coast. All are private businesses, which charge a small fee to drive your car through the tree. From north to south they are: Klamath Tour Thru Tree, Myers Flat Shrine Tree, and Leggett Chandelier Tree.

Granny J said...

Oh, my -- there'll always be a businessman!

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