Sunday, 11 March 2012

The old trees

Few of us live in the wooden world we evolved to live in. Some urban and suburban people live near patches of trees, but these tend to be only decades old, the second and third generation after logging. The trees are not the monoliths our ancestors saw, hosting flowers and nests in their wrinkles and mushrooms like platters. Few forests today harbour dead trees still standing like monuments, fostering hundreds of kinds of life, nor is the forest floor covered in the fallen trees slowly enriching the soil.

Even the trees in this picture are simply plantings -- obviously, as they are in a neat row -- as young as a century and surrounded by a new housing development. It gives us a hint, however, of what a forest of such monoliths would have been like. I imagine it as a three-dimensional landscape, razed as humans swept across. Many such forests now seem to be a scoured flatness of suburbia, their soil nothing but a thin layer of zoysia over clay. The soil still harbours colonies of bacteria and mycellium, though, and the seeds of a new forest -- trapped under the lawns as though under glass, waiting for our brief interruption to end. 

Photo taken December 2009.

1 comment:

Florence said...

How beautiful!! We have a grove of live oaks which are 100-125 years old. My husband says that we only have them in trust for the next generation.