Saturday, September 10, 2011

An Old Tree's Secrets

Dan has been steadily working over the past two weeks, to clear the downed trees littering our yard, after winds from Hurricane Irene toppled them domino fashion, flattening his car, but miraculously missing our house.



The downed trunks resembled a type of Stonehenge monument. Before they fell, some of these century-plus trees formed the vaulted canopy of a leafy-ceilinged cathedral in the side yard. It was awesome to stand in the center of this sacred yard and stare up into the lacy network, glimpsing intricate mosaic of blue sky beyond layers of sunlit green.
Each Spring, these trees offered us gallons of sweet sap, which we boiled and boiled, sticky, sweet steam rising, into pancake syrup. They shaded our home from Summer's heat. In Autumn these majestic maples modeled stunning, glowing, golden cloaks which I tried to capture with my camera, then they'd fling them off and we'd rake and rake them into enormous piles destined for the compost pile.
In their transition from lofty trees into into firewood, they will warm us during Winter's chill. From beauty, function and partial decline due to natural age, they are transformed into a new energy that will continue to sustain us. Even though portions of the old trees were quite hollow or rotted, their tops were surprisingly dense and solid, yielding many stacks of wood.
They've revealed some of their hidden secrets as Dan continues to saw, roll, split and stack this wood that shaded my Mom at play when she was a youngster in the 1920s. These trees that were part of our daily lives for the past thirty years, also stood guard over my Grandfather, whom I never knew, as he passed beneath them daily to do barn chores from 1915 (when he bought our home) until his death in 1944. (These trees even provided cover for all the visitors to the outhouse, too, before indoor plumbing was installed in the mid 1930s).
Joe and I responded quickly to Dan's whistles of surprise, as another secret of the big trees' was exposed. Earlier this week, he uncovered an abandoned egg, snugly nestled in the rotted, earthy decay of old wood, perhaps an unhatched Screech Owl's egg leftover from their nest many years ago?

Yesterday, deep within the big log he was sawing from an upper section of the maple's trunk, a succession of tiny, dark frogs or toads jumped out, like miniature clowns exiting a trick car. Again, we were summoned to witness this neat revelation, before he scooped them up and deposited them in a similar decaying cavity of another Sugar Maple.
I'm sure that we are not the only ones who will miss the shelter of these maples. They provided homes to legions of insects, songbirds, squirrels, chipmunks, wood ducks and more (once, a woodchuck even claimed a space under the roots of one of them), long before we arrived.
Old trees, thank you for the memories: your beauty, shade,sweet sap, morning song and more. Thanks for the warmth to come. Thanks for your connection to our present world, our future warmth and our past memories. We won't forget you!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Flood 2011

Well, we're in the midst of yet another flood in the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers' region. Schools, roads and bridges remain closed, and travelling is restricted. I thought the '06 flood was touted as a once-in-five-hundred-year flood, but obviously it's more like an every 5 year occurrence. I guess Mother Nature doesn't keep tabs on zero placement.

I'm learning not to be complacent about anything. Normal, boring days seem like a wonderful daydream .A couple weeks ago Hurricane Irene toppled several trees in our yard, thankfully missing our house (a miracle ) but landing squarely on our cars. My car gained some character wrinkles but Dan's Impala was impaled. We are still recovering from that incident!

Our priorities became very basic. Do we have food and water? Is our house staying relatively dry? Many have been evacuated and displaced from jobs, homes and comfortable routines. We are practicing patience, gratitude and resilience. We know the sun is shining somewhere!

We've had a long, mostly delightful summer. We've had some park picnics, family gatherings, a short jaunt to Maine, and a quick trip to the State Fair! So despite these current conditions, we have many images to remind us that life is good!



This is our neighboring creek that dumped 150 truckloads of rock on our yard five years ago. Thankfully, it's staying in its banks but is undercutting the state highway.


Above, my son enjoying the Footsie-Wootsie at the State Fair.

Impaled Impala :-(

How did this tree miss our house?

Maine men

Playing with my food!

Beach boy!

Wedding at Blue Spruce Manor

Took Dad to church...where he was fondly welcomed...

I'm enjoying being a vendor at the Hamilton Farmer's market!

Breathtaking clouds!

My gang

Grandma D's SIX grands!