Monday, February 06, 2012

Finding New Things

Monday, February 6, 2012

A morning here on the mountain with many weather changes. An hour ago it was ten degrees warmer than right now. The sun may be shining and saying "Good Morning, America" in Eastport, Maine but it's a dreary day here. The wind has come up and it's forcing the temperature down so we're at 13.9° right now with the wind chill. Karl the Wonder Dog has been out twice but the bite of the wind was more than he cared for. I agree.

A local logger is cleaning up a very nice old sugar bush just down the road from us and that means wood chips for a nearby power plant, firewood which he works up mechanically, and also logs. The logs go to sawmills in Maine because there just aren't many left here in Vermont and those that are left have specialties. When you go to a mill, hardware store, box store, etc. and buy a piece of lumber you might complain about the price but you have to stop for a minute and think through the process. Kinda like buying a gallon of milk if you're a complain-about-price person. It's a lot of work to get the board from a tree in the woods to the board you want to buy. Logging is one of the most dangerous professions going and it's not easy work to boot. Anyway two log trucks just headed out after stopping in front of our house here and taking off their snow chains. They have easy sailing now except for school bushes that they will start meeting in half an hour as they cross into New Hampshire.

Just before the logger in charge of this cutting started, he stopped by to introduce himself. The 80 acre piece will take all winter to finish but with no snow this year, everything can go quicker. The land belongs to a family named Chase from Barre and they are all good people. There is a deer camp on the property and I remember my father in law used to go there at the start of deer season every year for an afternoon shot of whiskey. He has passed on now, and Henry, the owner and family leader, is hunting in a different world now having left last year at age 91. For Ralph, the visit was an annual affair, one of those things he had to do and he'd be gone some time as there were stories to share, some repeated annually. Sometimes in summer he'd go down to see if Henry was cutting wood and he'd ride the old John Deere 320 down as if it was a car or truck. Ralph is gone and now I have that tractor but the stories didn't come with it. Good stories.

So anyway, what's the point of a logging operation in winter and a blog entitled "Finding New Things"? When loggers, or even homeowners like you, begin to reopen forests that have been closed for some time, it's like someone unlocked a new world. The first summer you can walk where trees once stood and look at the ground and make mental comment on how good a job the logger did (or didn't do) caring for the balance of the environment. The thing that's guaranteed to prevail is your notice of the sunlight no longer blocked from entering the land and it's that opportunity that makes the difference.

After year one, many seeds will have germinated that had been dormant for many, many years. Wildflowers will be included and you will be surprised during years two and three with the beauty that you never knew existed. This piece of property is adjacent to Marshfield Reservoir and there is no doubt that the wild orchids that I find once in a while will begin to surface. Trilliums, both erectum and undulatum will probably be everywhere in 3-4 years and bunches of bunchberries will be covered in white next spring and red berries by the next fall.These are guesses but I have seen this happen repeatedly and know it will happen here too.

When spring awakens land that you know, take a hike on a piece of newly logged forest and keep an eye on what grows. State forests most always have a new piece you can walk. I'll bet you'll be surprised. Right now three blue jays and two doves are surprised that it's 7:30 and the feeders are empty. Have to get going here. From the mountain above Peacham Pond, good wishes for a nice day. Think about "finding some new things".

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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Always helping you grow your green thumb!

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