Tuesday, October 04, 2016

No regrets

As I cleaned up tops and slash on Sunday, I kept waiting for Ed Begley Jr. to fly over in a solar powered plane and shit on my head. But I stand by my reasoning in cutting at all, and then in cutting so much. Since the very best thing you can do for the environment is kill yourself, most of us settle for second and third best and call it exemplary.

Around 2002, this is how it looked. As of last Wednesday morning, it looked pretty similar, except that we built a sunroom/music studio off the front of the house in 2012 in a final effort to give the cellist's teaching program a base of operations.
This is the music room when it was brand new. Note the shadows. This darkness bracketed the day, day after day. I would look at the aerial photo of the place on Google Maps and realize what a tiny slice of sky we had.

The trees won't protect you from the government satellites and the black helicopters. They've got thermal imaging and all kinds of weird heinous classified stuff we can barely imagine.
By the end of Thursday, this had happened. Ain't no point in buyer's remorse now. It's barely an eighth of an acre, if that, but it's still a hell of a jolt after 27 years in the shade of forest giants.

White pines are a very assertive species. They thrive where the cycle of fire has been interrupted, overspreading the pitch and red pines that need fire to propagate. I've been tempted to torch a few yards of another part of the property to give those other pines a new generation. In the meantime, taking out this stand seems to have excited a lot of the bird life. Insects, too: because we have not had a real frost yet this fall, dragonflies were patrolling today, and cicadas buzzed in the remaining treetops. But for the sun angle and the color of the leaves, it could have been a summer afternoon. It isn't right, but it's how things are.

Pushing the edge as far back as I did, I can put in a margin of spruce to create thick, low screening from the neighbors, whose logging activities precipitated this whole upheaval. The property line shaves surprisingly closely, within the margin of the trees that are still standing. I want to make damn sure we are not looking at each other's stuff when this is all over. I did not move to a place like this just to stare into my neighbor's back yard. If I could put up with that, I could do it someplace that actually has an economy.

Living in a place like this and caring enough about a bunch of stupid trees to shed a tear over them relates directly to my bicycling activities. I hoped to inspire interest in non-motorized transportation and recreation, starting way back in the 1980s, when you actually had to get your stuff printed on paper and physically distributed to readers. The sprawled-on world I left behind has continued to fester, spawning more and more land rape as the human population burgeons. Even here, things are way more built up than they were when I moved into the little shack from which this house has grown. Fortunately, we have few resources for outside interests to extract, and we're not near enough to anywhere for industry to locate here. Unfortunately, we have to trade on our illusion of wildness, combined with our convenient proximity to the northern margins of sprawl. It's a constant battle between commercial interests that want to rape a little more and a little more to bring in more chumps, and the good stewards who have to remind residents over and over that we lose it all a little at a time.

New Hampshire is among the most forested states in the country. However, the reversion of farmland to forest has been offset by heavy development in the more urbanized southern part of the state. When it comes to wildlife management, clearings and fields have an important role alongside forest stands in various stages of succession. It's all part of the big mosaic. The hard part is waiting for stuff to grow, which it won't start to do until next April.

It would be ironic if Hurricane Matthew blasted in here in a few days and took out a bunch of trees. On the plus side, fewer of them are located within falling distance of the house. If the wind diminishes, we could definitely use the rain. But it would wipe out a holiday weekend's tourist influx.

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