Friday, October 30, 2015

Arboreal and Spiritual Rescue

Protecting a tree sapling in a wire cage
We've had perfect autumn weather this year in the northern Piedmont, and today was no exception.  So, I decided to "fly the coop" for an hour or so this morning to take care of two trees in serious need of attention.

I've got five guys on my stewardship (i.e., maintenance) staff who should be doing this kind of job. However, because the weather was so nice, and because it would have been harder to tell the guys where the trees were located than to just do the job myself, I went out in the field.

The first tree, a linden (or basswood) with a diameter of about 8 inches, was being rubbed by white-tailed deer bucks almost to death.  When rutting season comes around, the deer rub their antlers against trees they find suitable and, in the process, scrape off the bark.  If they scrape the bark all the way around the tree, it will kill the tree.  For some reason, the deer seem to find basswoods irresistible, and they will savage any specimen that is not adequately protected.  My staff either encloses the trees in wire cages or they wrap large trees with burlap sacks.  In the case of the basswood tree I went out to rescue, the burlap bag had slipped down and the trunk was exposed.  So, I firmly reattached the bag and I enclosed the tree in a wire mesh cage.

The second tree I went to rescue was a red oak sapling whose protective wire cage had been completely overwhelmed by the insidious invasive vine porcelain-berry.  Imagine the tree being planted in the image at the head of the post completely blanketed by a mass of vines and you get the idea.  I cut away and uprooted the vines, replaced the wooden stakes supporting the cage, and generally tidied up the planting spot - I'm an "anal" neat freak.

While I was working, a man stopped to tell me that there was a sizable snapping turtle alongside the trail about 50 feet away.  I had just walked the trail to get to the tree and hadn't even noticed the turtle, which looked like a big, gray rock when I went up to see it.  Cool!  Then, when I went back to the tree to finish up, a woman walked by and thanked me for saving the tree.

She went on to say that my preserve is the one thing in life that keeps her sane and she didn't know what she would do if she couldn't walk the trails and rejuvenate her psyche.  She knew my name (though I didn't recognize her), and she concluded by thanking me profusely for being the heart and soul of the preserve.  She told me that she had so much gratitude and appreciation for me and and my commitment to the natural world.

Deferential type that I am, I sorta' gave her an "Aw, shucks" response.  But, you know what?  She really did lift my spirits.


packrat said...

I thought you were going to say that after you went to view the snapping turtle you returned to find the woman rubbing her head against the saved tree.:)

All kidding aside, though, it was a fantastic comment to receive from a person who truly appreciates your commitment to preserving that particular parcel of the natural world.

robin andrea said...

Nice to read of such good work there and that wonderful appreciation. Testimony to all the hard work you and your crew do. Great post!

Scott said...

Packrat: Sorry; I can't report anything so unusual as the woman rubbing her head against the tree trunk. However, she did make me feel all warm and fuzzy, and maybe I was tempted to rub some of that warm fuzz (i.e., antler velvet) off on a tree.

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: I probably don't thank my staff frequently enough; in fact, I know I don't thank my staff frequently enough. Most of the time they do good work, but it's the times they screw-up, goof off, or do a shoddy, half-assed job that I remember the most and then I'm not in the mood to congratulate them.

Mark P said...

That must have made you feel pretty good. I can't imagine ever getting such a comment for the kind of work I did for the last (nearly) 30 years.