Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘dead pines

We’re Dry

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During my commute home yesterday afternoon, I watched clouds thicken and grow dark to the south. When I exited from I94 east and turned toward the southeast heading to River Falls, the view looked a little threatening. Then the radio reported there was only one noteworthy storm worth mentioning. With possible heavy rain amounts, high wind, and hail, in Goodhue and Pierce counties, it included the communities of Red Wing and Hager City.

We live in Pierce county, a short distance north of Red Wing.

Good, I thought. We could use the rain. I just wasn’t fired up about driving in the pouring rain.

When I finally reached Beldenville, the road was soaking wet, but the rain was already done. It must have stopped just before I arrived.

We live a couple of miles north of Beldenville proper, and when I turned onto County J, the pavement was bone dry.

We didn’t get a drop at home.

I stepped out on the deck to take a picture of the drooping sunflower for a representation of how the plants are feeling about our long spell without rain.

As I stood there, I noticed there was a lot more than just the sunflower that would show up in the frame.

This sunflower made a surprise appearance, most likely growing from birdseed that fell from the feeder nearby. It shot up with robust energy at first. When the ground started to dry out, the growth stunted significantly. It hasn’t looked very happy ever since.

There used to be a big pine tree here. I’m guessing it might have been root bound, based on my recent discovery about the pines out in the field north of the driveway. We left it standing until it was good and dead, then I cut it down, leaving enough of the old trunk to have a nice support for a balanced rock. Using this chiseled stone for a base (probably a remnant from the construction of the field stone chimney on the house), I balanced a large rock that I was only barely able to lift up to the necessary height.

It eventually fell down.

I’ve yet to decide whether to put a different one up there, but I’ve definitely chosen to leave the too heavy one safely on the ground where it landed.

Even though the big tree died, the ground seems to be fertile for a new generation of pines sprouting in its place. There are at least three rising up around that stump, taking advantage of the sunlight available since I cut the big one down.

And where do baby trees come from? The number of pine cones remaining from the now-removed tree seem to offer plenty of clues.

Maybe if we come out of this dry spell, more of those seeds will sprout.

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Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

Losing Trees

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DSCN4209eIt’s so incredibly sad to be losing more pine trees. Our pine trees have slowly, but very consistently every year since we bought this place, been dying off.

Looking back, I believe it probably started before we arrived. One of the first things I noticed after we moved in was a small, dead pine in our front yard. It had just endured a very dry autumn, so I left it stand over the winter, in case it showed any sign of new life the following spring.

It didn’t.

I cut it down and accepted the loss as a single unfortunate occasion. However, the next year there were more.

DSCN4210eSeveral trees began showing signs of stress and I figured they were suffering from another very dry summer and autumn. I tried watering them to aid their ability to withstand the rigors of the approaching winter. Little did I know, it would be very extreme winter.

I wasn’t surprised when the trees weren’t able to survive that double whammy.

It was always 1 or 2 trees in a bunch, while others, often the larger ones around them, seemed unaffected. I would cut down the dead trees and assume that was that.

Each time, the decline of the trees happened so slowly that I wasn’t forming an opinion there was more to be concerned about. I had researched the symptoms, and came to believe (probably due to a confirmation bias) it was weather related. Knowing I wasn’t going to control the weather, I resorted to sadly accepting the loss without feeling there was anything more to be done.

When we spotted it happening again this year, on the few remaining trees in all of the several locations of previous losses, we called for an analysis by a professional. I had hoped that one look would reveal to an arborist some known predicament indigenous to this region.

Unfortunately, he arrived in the middle of a pouring rain. Cyndie was home at the time, and walked with him, trying to hold an umbrella that kept folding inside out in the wind. Not conducive to making close inspection or pondering possibilities.

What he did offer was the disconcerting news that no matter what the problem is, possible treatments wouldn’t start until next spring. He left us with the impression he would return later, in better weather, and take a closer look. One of Cyndie’s to-do tasks today is to call the tree company and inquire, because we haven’t heard anything for weeks.

Maybe when he said better weather, he meant next spring.

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Written by johnwhays

December 17, 2015 at 7:00 am