Two Timber Tales

I admire and love trees tremendously. They are so varied in size, leaf, limb and purpose; their existence is so ingrained in the earth’s landscape and needs. Here on our small 2 acre pond we have seventeen plus mature Cottonwoods interspersed with smaller native and non native trees whose humble beginnings were probably a seed deposited by a bird or the breeze or someone inadvertently. At the Northwest end of the pond we had for many years a huge Cottonwood tree- larger than all others around the pond. It was at least 60 feet tall and tall enough to attract a lightning strike that clinched its demise. The crew we hired to take it out sent up rope after rope to stabilize tree and personnel. The expert at the top of the tree had chainsaws dangling from his waist as he moved like a trapeze artist high among the large limbs. We watched mesmerized “ringside” as the tree came down. Except Dan and I asked them to leave the large stump (about 16 feet tall) to be a refuge or home for the woodpeckers, little animals and this last spring as a nest for the geese.

Then there is the distinguished Colorado Blue Spruce that has graced our lawn for many years and has become as tall as our second story windows. Dan has always like decorating it at Christmas time and those first four strings of lights have grown to nine or ten the last two years… and with that, a bit precarious to decorate. It has been such a respite for the small songbirds, cottontails and squirrels that frequent the feeder areas. It also has provided shelter on many cold winter nights and a shady spot for a sizzling summer day. One of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen and it has valiantly weathered the Midwest’s extreme heat, cold and Kansas wind.

Both of them, the Cottonwood stump and the Blue Spruce came down this last week. The Blue Spruce had not weathered the heat of several years ago and unknown to us it was weakening, distressed and the minus 17 degrees this past winter just clinched it- but no signs of that until spring growth appeared and it dropped all the needles. Looking at the bare skeleton of the evergreen had to be addressed and it was taken down Thursday. Friday brought great summer rain that covered our dock and much of the shoreline. The Cottonwood stump filled with water and I heard the heavy plunge into the pond in the middle of the night.

It was poignant to think of them both gone and in such quick succession but I noticed how quickly the birds adjusted to the lack of landing space, flying a few feet further to some smaller trees and shrubs. The squirrels checked out the vacant space where the Blue Spruce had been and adjusted their” snatch and run” technique. We have been watching small turtles crawl slowly up the side of the big Cottonwood stump in the water, sunning themselves. And then I think about how change is the only constant here at the pond and in life too. The little animals, birds always move forward and adapt to the changes, seeking out the possibilities. So, I will be content with my new expanded view of the pond and the memories that abound here. Life possibilities here on Green Heron Pond.

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