For the past two days, in the falling snow, a man with a chain saw has been working in the woods behind our house. He has a master\’s degree in \”Northeastern Sylvan Hardwoods,\” and he\’s making a trail so we can walk our woods without getting lost. I call him Our Forester.
I love a man who knows his trees. The first time Our Forester came over, we went with him to figure out the boundaries of our land (is that the stone wall over there? Oh look, here\’s a piece of old barbed wire…this must be the corner of the property). And as we walked, he would stop and point to a non-descript tree trunk and say \”you\’ve got a nice red maple here,\” or \”these beeches look like they\’re in pretty good health,\” or \”this one here\’s a sugar maple.\” (A sugar maple! We have sugar maples on our land! We\’ll be \”sugaring\” this spring!) All the trees he pointed out, except for the pines, which are green, looked pretty much alike to me–ashes and white birches and gray birches and oaks and cedars and hickories and gnarly old apple trees.
He would put his hand on a winter-bare tree and look up at the branches outlined against the sky. \”Now this one\’s got a nice rounded crown,\” he\’d say. \”If we clean up the area around it a bit (he meant cut down the little spindly trees and bushes) it\’ll get a growth spurt, and you\’ll have a really beautiful tree in no time at all.\”
Obviously, we can\’t just ask him to cut us a trail. In Our Forester I have found a kind of vet for our woods. He needs to give them a thorough check-up, and then clean out the stuff that is clogging them up so the trees can breathe and grow strong and healthy and produce nuts and apples and things for the wildlife….
Speaking of which, there are a lot of wet spots in the woods, spots that with just a little work could be cleared out and maybe dug out a bit and turned into a nice little pond that would make the frogs and the salamanders and the fisher cats and the coyotes, not to mention the bear that I want to believe still lives around here, really happy, come spring.