A Memory Of Trees
Enya's song "The Memory Of Trees" comes to mind, trees being tightly
held in the celtic tradition. But I am only remotely related to the
celtic line so that cannot be the reason for my love of trees. I
also worked with forestry as a pilot for a while and one of my
grandfathers was a cartright whom my brother and I watched for hours
on end as he made things from wood, but these are not why I
love trees either. And long before all that two of my ancestors were
forestland owners and although the lumber industry in those days
didn't even resemble today's total-destruction for profit
it's not the reason either. It isn't because sawdust ran in my veins
that I became a tree activist, that would come only as the direct
result of having witnessed the atrocity that humanity has done to
our forest worlds.
Much like my maternal cartright grandfather my wife's paternal
grandfather was also in his prime at the turn of the last century.
He would tell us stories about rural Quebec life in those days, in
Gaspesie more precisely, where snow clearance was unheard of and
where the roads were practically forgotten for the duration of
winter when snow drawn sleighs would fly on snow-roads
"under the branches of pine trees that took two or three people to
embrace i.e. put their arms around". These stories got me thinking,
well aware that today trees are harvested as soon as a 2 by 4 can be
sawed from them and as far as Quebec is concerned 2x12's are now
imported from British Columbia because there are simply no more
foot-diameter trees left standing here, much less five and six
My father-in-law (above) was among those trying to harness
technology in the fight against phenomenal snow-falls. The snow-roads
of old had become obsolete with the arrival of automobiles, only a
few remained in service by 1950 and those only in the most remote
regions. The winter forests were being abandoned in a sense albeit
not in the minds of the lumber industry. Although still rather
unnoticed it was the dawn of mechanized clear-cutting. There
were still plenty of big trees to be felled but a difference is
already palpable in or between photographs taken then or fifty years
So I began to pay attention to data, all kinds of data about trees
and forests. Some statements to the effect that there were as many
trees today as ever didn't go unnoticed, except that the two
generations of trees were evidently not of the same size at all.
Then I went visiting in Hungary where this slice in a museum showed
the rings of a tree born there in the time of Jesus. The slice was
around 16 feet in diameter, I could not get it all into one picture,
unfortunately the digital image fails to show its rings.
The earliest identified year is marked as 453 A.D. and the last
1956. Then, while researching on the great pines (while planning to
plant 200 myself) I stumbled upon pictures of diameters between that
of the above Jesus tree and the 5-footers that my wife's grandfather
had known and talked about.
....or others I've lost the source of
There are accounts in Nouvelle-France of "fields of 40 meter
great white pines as far as the eye can see"
but soon after, because the Royal-Navy had use for straight trees to
make ship masts on the east coast as well as the west coast, the
apocalypse of these trees would also begin. As we move ahead
in time, by 1950 as seen in the reference video below the tree
diameters are mostly below 1 meter, certainly so in eastern Canada.
About the only places where trees of substance, those that once
filled entire vistas, can be found now are in protected parks and
All in all I figure that in 10,000 years we
have consumed 1/2 of the trees since coming out of the last ice
age, going from some 30 trillion big trees to 15 trillion much
smaller ones. This gives some sense of the dioxide absorbing
greenery, the lungs of the earth, and capacity-destruction but
if we look for the actual amount of wood and branches then we
find 6 inch trunks where 4 footers once were! I suspect that in
terms of board-feet or foliage we have destroyed over 80%. Every
human being should be charged with the planting of 1 tree per
month throughout his or her life, such being the true scope of
what we have allowed the money-changers to do to our spaceship
I had planted maybe 200 trees in my life in different places before
retiring and then about 100 here since 2003. It was last year in
2020 when, having discovered my 1000-in-life formula that I really
went at it with 250. Among these were some Siberian Cedars
that seem to be remarkably tough. One seedling got completely
uprooted by some animal and I only found it in June 2021,
immediately replanting it. Time will tell if it recovers.
Yellow Cedar Cupressus Nootkatensis
This section is about my
attempt to migrate the above majestic tree to eastern Quebec
Often bred as a weeping tree, the Alaskan
Yellow-Cedar is somewhat sad in outlook and not inappropriately
so given what we have done to trees and to our spaceship home
since coming out of the last ice-age 11,000 years ago. I have
run some numbers and have concluded that every human being
should plant one tree every month of his/her life to make up for
the atrocity of human presence, this averages out to maybe 1000
trees per person. Now at about 600 and reaching 800 of my own
this coming spring I hope to atone for my part of the
sin. N.B. Climate-change is killing the tree off in
Alaska, I figure the same climate-change might help it survive
Ordered a box of 220 plugs from PRT
Order shipped out from Campbell
Seedlings arrive, moist and cool, very healthy looking but thawed out. "3-4 day Express-Service" was
at 8 days last night when Purolator warned of another possibly 1
week long additional delay. Had a few words with them about the
political correctness coefficient of being called killers-of-baby-trees
and package arrived this afternoon. Placed them in fridge at
1-2c, too scared to risk freezer at this point and with
freezer unstable -2 to -10c.
My better-half will help pot them tomorrow, maybe 10 (but
separated) to a large pot.
Seedlings get potted, too late to shop we just drafted the pots
and pans on hand.
Major (Triple-A) surgery on Apr-26 has come to delay the project
a little. In my 5th week of twice-6-weeks of
convalescence/recovery I now have about 2/3 of the 220 planted
outdoors. Here are some typical habitats over about 3000 feet of
land with various topography and vegetation.
Ideal and protected bog-on-rock
on left, open grassland middle, woodland line-swath on right.
A better habitat in wet ravine with lots of snow and ground not
yellow-cedar "plugs" are now planted-out (I gave
5 of the received 220 to one of my sons). Still not one lost.
The image below shows rough locations of these as well as around
250 other evergreens planted last summer (about 25 of the
Nootkas got planted on another lot).
The planted trees
are gradually uncovering themselves and so far all are alive
and well. All the snow should be gone in a couple of weeks so
I intend to do a more detailed inspection later.
Have started making the rounds, so far so good, the one on
the left is already past 2 feet (and almost got a snow-blower placed
on top of it, I never saw it was there). NB. early pictures INCLUDED
the 5-6" root. Field conditions were abominable so I'll probably do
an encore. Many I could not find in 4-5 foot tall grass/hay.
Seen about 3-5 totally dead (3rd from left), some very small but
also VERY dark green (4th from left), most were like the one on the
right; all in all not a hopeless prog thus far.
Almost all the plants that I had not marked with 4 or 6 foot driveway
markers (about 150) have become impossible to find in tall weed. So I
undertook to mark them all. I have found about 2 more dead and one as an
unequivocal example of 2nd year resurrection (above).