Friday, October 14, 2011

Goodbye Grandpappy Pine

In the beginning, there are pine trees.

Pine trees are pioneer species that populate a disturbed (deforested) area. They thrive in full sunlight. As they ascend into the clouds, they form the forest’s canopy. Maples, ashes, and oaks sprout in the shadows of the pines. May apples, blueberries, and beautyberries fill in below the understory trees. Partridge berries, violets, and various vines spread across the forest floor.

But, in this vibrant, diverse community, there is no future for the pines. Unable to tolerate their own shade, their stillborn seeds lie on blankets of their shed branches and leaves. Birds and squirrels are nourished by the seeds; worms, beetles, millipedes, and cockroaches dine on the debris.

The day will come when the pine trees die. Their carcasses may stand for years, feeding and sheltering bees, bats, and birds. Once their bodies collapse from age or disease or wind abuse, they will serve amphibians and reptiles with warmth as a multitude of decomposers pulverize them.

Unless catastrophe rips a hole in the roof, the pine trees will fade into history.

That is the way it is.

Our beloved Grandpappy Pine is dying. We could lament the loss of the biggest, oldest tree in the nature park, or we could rejoice in the success of reforestation. Either way, the time for change has come, and we must say goodbye to the 119-year-old Shortleaf Pine tree.

The tree still stands, but to prevent damage to human life and property, we may have to control the way in which it falls. Come see (touch, hug) Grandpappy Pine while you still can.


maggie said...

Beautiful Tree. Does this count as one of the Virgin Pines I've heard so much about since moving here or is this one too young for that? Thanks for posting Rach, will share with my friends and maybe some will bring their children to see such an Old Soul as this while they still can.

Rachel Demascal said...

Maggie, I believe "virgin" trees are those that were growing before European settlers arrived. Since Grandpappy Pine sprouted in 1892, and history tells us that the timber industry was booming in Northwest Louisiana in the 1880s, I think it is the first tree to grow back after the area was clear cut.