#39 The Hemlocks
August 19th, 2015
Egad it’s hot! I was out before six this morning drenching the flower containers and the bean patch. I left my leaky hose at the base of the Chinese plum tree. Poor thing has been so stressed by the hot summer she dropped her plums and about half of her leaves.
So the recent heat wave has got me thinking about trees.
That plum tree has had a hard life, poor thing. I bought her for the orchard on the farm we had in Powell River, but the resident bull got into the orchard and was scratching his big brown butt on her. She snapped about a foot and a half from the ground. I went roaring and yelling and screeching and waving my arms and the bull sauntered off, totally unimpressed.
I dug the poor broken wreck of a tree out of the ground and moved her to a different field. She started to grow again. When we sold the farm, I took her with me. Then I dug her up again to bring her to Tahsis.
I thought I’d lost her that time. She just sort of sulked for a year-and-a-half. Then she decided she’d try growing again. She’s a decent size now but she’s just not used to this kind of unremitting heat.
None of us are.
All of which is a roundabout way to tell you something else about trees…
A couple of months ago my daughter-of-another-mother Deb and I were walking our dogs and Deb stopped, peered, then blurted something along the lines of, “What the hell…?” and headed over to examine a couple of mature hemlock trees growing alongside the rocky bluff.
Someone had “ringed” both trees. Taken a chain saw and cut into the trunks, all around the tree. Nowhere near enough to actually drop the tree, but more than enough to kill it. Trees get their water and nourishment from a special layer just under the bark. I’m not sure, it might be called the cadmium layer, but maybe not. I guess I could look that up.
Well, we reported to the Village that these two trees had been ringed.
Things, as you must now by now, move slowly in Tahsis. Just when I started to think nothing was going to be done about it, just when I was starting to have daydream visions of a typical winter storm, with hurricane force winds, and those two dead trees crashing down on a car full of people or….well, here came the guys from Outside.
They came with a big chipper that they dragged behind a truck.
One guy went up one of the trees and cut off the top. It crashed to the ground and he started, one by one, cutting the branches off the tree. Fellow on the ground put the branches through the chipper which spat the fine chips back into the bush.
When what had been a gorgeous mature hemlock was reduced to a very tall log, the fellow hanging by his bootspurs cut off a ten- or twelve-foot section which fell to the ground with a resounding thump. Section by section that tree was reduced to a pile of logs.
And then they did the same to the other one.
The hemlock trees will become firewood.
We’ve all got a good idea who the creep was who ringed the trees but there’s no proof of any kind so all we can do is mutter. However, the Yank who only shows up in fishing season will now have an unobstructed view of the inlet from the front windows of his trailer.
They say it takes all kinds to make a world.
There are some kinds I could do without.
Anne Cameron grows pussywillows on the western edge of Vancouver Island. She received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia in 2010. Her 23 books include Daughters of Copper Woman, the bestselling work of fiction ever written about B.C. and published from within B.C. She has banished herself to Tahsis, a small town not far from Friendly Cove where the shenanigans called British Columbia all began.