Thursday, July 9, 2015

Boulevard of Broken Trees

When we first moved to South Carolina, I bemoaned the fact that we didn't have nearly as much direct sunlight as I'd expected to have.  Almost two acres, and no sunny space for a garden?  But I've grown to absolutely love our trees.

Not only do they draw all sorts of interesting wildlife, but they keep the house nice and cool in the summer, providing much-needed shade.  We have a wide variety of trees, giving us all sorts of nuts and interesting seed pods in the fall and flowers in the spring.  I love the different textures in the bark, the shapes of the leaves, and the sound the wild makes in the boughs.  In short, I'm now head-over-heels in love, and can't imagine our space any other way.  

Unfortunately, that microburst a couple of weeks ago did more damage than we originally thought.  The big two-trunked poplar with the broken top must come down, the arborist said.  It's already going into shock.  Not only that, two other trees had been hit by lightning and significantly cracked.  Another tree, too, had some sort of it must come down damage that we didn't anticipate.  Four of our beautiful 100 ft plus-tall trees, all around the front and side of the house, are now in the process of being cut down.

Here are a few pictures of the 'before' (in azalea season):

It's a pretty grim scene now.

Chainsaws, every day.

They started with the big poplar.  Just one of the two trunks provided a significant amount of wood.

Unbeknownst to us, a ten-foot beehive resided in one of those limbs.  It was a rather unpleasant surprise for the man who cut it down, and our neighbors couldn't leave their house for at least a day because of the angry swarms.

After consulting the Extension Service and several local beekeepers, we learned that this hive and these bees couldn't be saved.  It's been a really tearful experience for me, with both the trees and the bees, and I know that the worst part will come when all the trees are down and I'm faced with that barren landscape.

But, life goes on around here.  The squirrels don't seem too bothered by the commotion.

Herons still squawk at the edge of the pond.

While we were away for the 4th of July, the beavers finished denuding the downed tree of bark.

I was worried that they might not come back, so I went down to the water's edge at dusk yesterday.  I climbed over the trunk, scooted down among the leaves, and waited. 

At first it was just me and the water skippers.

Augustus came out.  He's moderately cautious, so he did a few laps around the pond before climbing out of the water.  He kept a close eye on me at first.

Before long, though, he was dragging branches through the water...

...and giving them a good shake before settling in for a nice nibble.

Pepita is much more cautious.  She circled for a long time before going to Augustus for reassurance with her funny beaver grunt (heard here).  She didn't stray from his side until I left.

It's moments like these that help me through the very real grief of losing our little sanctuary in the front. 

In other news, I've been doing quite a bit of baking, but not really posting it here.  Last week I pitted two whole pounds of fresh cherries... make a cobbler.  The recipe calls for less than a cup of sugar.  I thought it was not quite sweet enough, but Todd is typically cherry cobbler-averse because of the overwhelming sweetness, and he absolutely loved this.  I left out the star anise and added a big handful of oatmeal to the crumb mixture.  Also, I didn't bother to make the cookie base.  I just divided the crumb mixture in half and it was plenty for a nice bottom layer and plentiful crumb on top. 

It was a nice compromise for both of us, and it didn't last long around here!

I hope to complete a big knitting project by next week and look forward to posting pictures soon.  Have a great week! 

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