Every day when we walk on our forty-plus acres, Cliff keeps up a running commentary about the trees we pass: "I need to cut down that old snag," and "Look at how those trees grow away from one another." He enjoys our timber, and even trims back the trees when they need it, if possible. You'd never know at first glance that practically all our woods is made up of second-growth timber.
Almost thirty years ago, the then-owner of the biggest part of our land, Lewis, was injured and had to go on disability. He was not a person to sit and twiddle his thumbs, so he cut every tree he could reach for firewood; he used what he needed in his wood furnace and sold the rest. Hampered as he was by a hip injury, it amazed us how he managed to climb those steep banks and harvest so many trees. I still don't see how a disabled man made it up and down those banks alone, cut trees, and pulled them up to higher ground without killing himself. It would have been a dangerous task.
The next owner, Tim, the fellow from who we bought the back part of our property, had the place logged: This got rid of the magnificent trees that had been too big for Lewis to cut for firewood. Cliff and I just shook our heads at how many huge logs were trucked out of there.
A year or two later, Tim divided up the property (because we couldn't afford to buy all fifty-some acres) and suddenly we owned forty-two acres instead of just six. My grandson Arick was less than a year old when we made the purchase, so that would mean we've owned that part of the land for twenty-five years now. The only big trees the loggers had left were hollow or diseased ones, and some of those have since fallen. Most of the other trees on the place have come up from stumps left by Lewis, previous to the logging activity.
Within trees, there seems to be some spark that says, "I will survive; I might not survive as a perfect specimen, but I will survive."
I've seen that spark in a lot of human beings, too.
(You can click on any of these pictures to make them bigger.)