Big Old Trees. February 17, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
Tags: Ashfield MA, Canon 24mm f3.5 L TS-E II lens, Canon f2.8 L II USM 16-35mm zoom, Elliot, Hull Forest Products, Old Growth Forest, Sears Meadow, tilt-shift photography
Well, they’re not big like Sequoias, or old like Bristlecones. But here in the Northeast, where everything from vehicles to homes to fuel used to be produced from wood, the ancient forests were all but gone by the late nineteenth century. In Southern New England forests were nearly nonexistent, except where the terrain rendered them inaccessible.
So it’s rather amazing to find a stand of Old Growth Forest in nearby Ashfield, occupying a gentle knoll along side a very old road. It’s doubly so if one considers that these stately trees are white pines and hemlocks, very desirable woods (the hemlocks for their bark tannins,) and that the property they’re on has changed hands between numerous loggers and lumber companies over the past many years, including a trio of local brothers who set up a sawmill right across the street from them! It’s presently owned by Hull Forest Products, which is preserving it in an undeveloped state.
And here they are, still looming proudly over Sears Meadow:
There’s a spectacular number of board-feet of “lumber” here, growing straight and true:
The larger ones have a CHC (“chest-height circumference,” a standard forestry measure of girth) exceeding the reach of two grown men (that’s three of me! )
And they’re tall , disappearing through their lofty canopies as if to poke out the sun:
But with great height comes great peril; lightning finds them long before their more common brethren, splitting them from tip to toe, blasting bark away in jagged lines:
…allowing access to insects and fungi, which do what the lumber barons left undone:
This fatal wound will soon fell this magnificent hemlock, and as with all things which live in the forest, it will find its place in the circle of life, sleeping with its ancestors, feeding its progeny:
And so it goes, and so it goes. The closed system agreed upon by Mother Nature and Father Time is harsh but beautiful; learning to live within it is essential to our survival as a species.
Let’s hope we figure that out before it’s too late.
All of these shots were taken with Elliot, except for the fourth one, which required the wider view of my 16-35mm L-Series zoom.