Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pinehaven? ... or Maplehaven?

Back in 1987, the first spring after we moved here, I hoped to create a more Michigan-like atmosphere on the property so I bought pines in bulk quantities; most were from Musser Forests in Pennsylvania and their special variety of the Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris). They've grown very well over the past 21 years and now tower above everything on the property. Considering the number I planted and the odd weather conditions of the past few years, some have begun to die. I mentioned this to my brother and he stopped by today with his chain saw to take down a particularly offending tree bordering Clayton Road. I could see the brown needles from a mile away.

As you can see (above), the tree he removed wasn't very big in girth. I planed these "six foot on center" for a windbreak and a privacy fence of sorts. I suppose they're a little close. In any case, a few have bit the dust and the thinning will do the rest good anyway.

What would take me hours with a hand saw took him perhaps 20 minutes with his chain saw. Look at the height of the corn (across Clayton Road) in the background. "Knee high by the 4th of July?" How about head high?

The left-over pile of debris - small limbs, needles, logs - will have to be carried away and stored or disposed of. As we finished the cutting, a thunderstorm was bearing down from the west so we made haste to get the Saturday morning project finished quickly.

A last log is cut to a manageable size and will, after it's dried for a while, serve to warm the house some winter. With the price of fuel - yes, electricity climbs, too - we'll be happy for any additional fuel. So the pine will have yet one final purpose. Wasn't it Thoreau who said wood warms us twice, once in the cutting, once in the burning?

Unfortunately, Pinehaven is shifting more towards maples every year. They grow better here, of course. The maples - sugar maples - line the north end of the meadow in two rows. I hoped to make maple syrup one day. But almost a quarter century has passed since I planted them and the trees still seem way too small for tapping. I will be tapped out before the trees. Like the house itself, someone else will likely inherit that task.