Monday, May 23, 2011

Recession Good For Oaks

(Click to enlarge - sorry about the lighting)

Next time you are bemoaning the precipitate drop in the value of your property relative to what you owe on it, keep in mind that the current economic downturn has had one silver lining:  Reduced construction activity means less construction damage to oaks.

Some of you might remember I posted photos of this beautiful bur oak a couple of years ago, along with dire predictions of its imminent demise (when it comes to the fate of oaks on construction sites sites I'm not a glass-half-empty kind of guy; I'm a glass-is-totally-empty-and-it-was-filled-with-the-wrong-beverage kind of guy).

I later learned that the elderly couple who sold this parcel to developers did so based on the developers' assurance (ahem) that they would take special care to protect this treasured tree.  The developers immediately demonstrated their concern for the tree by laying out and starting to build roads through the root zone in two directions.

I said at the time that once those roads were completed the clock would start ticking on a slow death, a death that would take long enough that developers and property owners would never think to attribute it to construction activity.

That hasn't happened... because the roads haven't happened.  What has happened instead is that two fast food joints just up the road have (tragically) shuttered their doors and new construction on this parcel of land stopped completely.

So this oak is spared for now.  I'd like to think that the developers are using this respite to bone up on preventing construction damage to heritage oaks.  I'd also like to think that white and pink unicorns will prance though my backyard tonight...

... which raises the questions (in my very twisted mind) - do unicorns browse oak seedlings?  and if so, will tree tubes protect them?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

To Plant An Acorn...

... is to know, in a funny sort of way, what a bird on her nest feels when waiting for her eggs to hatch.

So many parallels.  The same sense of expectancy.  The same constant, gnawing worry and doubt: Is it too cold? Too wet? Too dry? Did I tend the "eggs" properly since I gathered them last fall? Is the "nest" sufficient for the task?  The same impatience.  The same fear of predation.  The same dread certainty that you get one crack at this (so to speak) each year.

And in my case, as my children are fond of telling me, the same large, pointed beak.  And as I am fond of pointing out in return, they each have half my genes, ticking inside them like a little nasal time bomb.

What traits will transfer to my acorns?  Did the large acorned parent beget this trait to the acorns I happened to gather, and that happen to germinate for me?  Which acorns might be hybrids, secretly containing half the genetic code of another "species?"

A watched pot never boils.  I hope to God that watched acorns germinate... because I'll be watching the heck out them!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Historic Day

Yesterday was a momentous day in our nation's history:  I finished planting my little oak nursery, with enough genetic diversity to find the early, consistent acorn producing trees that will help, at least in a tiny way, fulfill J. Russell Smith's vision of A Permanent Agriculture based on woody perennials.

What did you think I was talking about?