Thursday, January 30, 2014

Orderly Oaks and Winter Reflections

The other day, I spent four hours pruning oak trees. The trees were a combination of Bur oak, Swamp white oak, and White oak. The White oak varietals do get a little worked up about not having a fun descriptor like "swamp" at the beginning of their name.  As a result, I try not to mention the soggy bottom boy's name in earshot of that which keeps his/her feet in drier climes. 

My purpose in pruning these trees is to produce a clear log. And no, clear does not mean a David Blaine illusion of see-through wood. Clear, means a straight tree with no branches coming off the main trunk until the upper half.  A log lacking branch unions creates wood that has no knots and therefor keeps the grain desirable, straight, and strong. Straight grain wood is characterized by all of the wood fibers laying in the same alignment. If you go to Steinhafels and look at any wood entertainment center, you will be looking at straight grain wood. 

The attached photo shows how nicely the row of trees look after pruning. With these trees properly pruned, I have better access to manage this woodlot for invasive species. The financial return, albeit a long time from now, on clear logs is vastly greater than trees that have never been touched by the pruner's saw. The aesthetic of the line of trees is also undeniable. These trees were planted in a straight row more than ten years ago with the use of a mechanical planter pulled by a tractor. Straight to slightly curved rows are the only spatial arrangement options when using a mechanical planter.

Here is where I get romantic. This woodlot is clean and orderly, or at least it will be once I get Dennis to pick up the brush, but it isn't natural. In my observations of nature, I have never seen such linear order. Nature is the murmurations of sparrows. Nature is acorns planted scattershot by the hopping grey squirrel. Nature is a glacial erratic found in a leafless wood

I find it incredibly ironic how hard I have worked at this woodlot to create a valuable product. I am developing high grade lumber, which is the intended purpose for the trees in this woodlot. A pruned row is notable, but it isn't beautiful. So as I continue with my work, I will appreciate the beauty of nature which is more valuable than my straight rows, straight trunks, freshly pruned oak trees. 

I don't like to use qualifiers. In editing my blog entries, I am consistently reminded of my verbosity. Every blowhard has someone to keep terra firma underfoot. Becky is my Muse and that who keeps me grounded. In other words she qualifies me as being relevant. Here we are on a nice winter walk, chasing away cabin fever.


  1. Thanks Arik, for sharing your experience with us. Personally I like winter season. Orderly Oaks looks great during winter season. Can you share more images of Orderly Oaks?

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