Monday, June 23, 2008

These Trees Were Our Friends

Even though I have known since early May that loggers were coming to cut down the forest behind me, I was unprepared.

The loggers had been on the far side of the farm for about 10 days. I saw their trucks lumbering across the fields as they moved through gates.

Last week they moved their set-up next door. I look out my bedroom window, and this is what I see:

I was not prepared to feel the trees as they crashed. But the first morning, the vibration came up through my sneakers into my feet. My soul felt sick as I realized what it was.

My friends were dying.

With morbid curiosity, I sat on the deck and watched the trees crash to the ground. The noise was thunderous. First a chainsaw, an engine rev, a mighty crack! And the tree toppled. It's leaves swooshed and the final bang shook the earth.

For 25 years I have haunted these woods. The forest was old, with trees stretched to the sky as high as I could see. I walked these woods when I needed time to think or a moment's meditation. I listened to them sigh in the wind and sing when the rain came down and pelted their leaves. I watched them stretch and bend in windstorms and saw a few break during winter ice.

It is perhaps more difficult for my husband. He has played among these trees since childhood. The woodcutter's machines now sit in the spot where he and a friend built a "log cabin." It had walls about four feet high. It's mostly rotted now, but the memories he retains are definitely good.

He also loves to hunt and these woods have brought him many a deer in years past.

Above you can see my husband as he looks at the tall trees that have not yet fallen to the axe. He estimates that 200 trees will be taken from this patch of wood before the logger leaves.

Below is a road they cut in so they could get into the forest.

Apparently they cut the "pulp" wood from the area first. That goes to Covington to West Vaco, where it is made into things like paper and press board. Other logs go to the sawmill, where they will be turned into lumber. Maybe your house will be built from these trees.

I do not dislike logging. I think it has its place in the system and can work well on managed land. When a wood is timbered and a management plan is in place, then I have no problem with it.

But the loggers leave a lot of mess:

If this is cleaned up and the land restored to something - a field, a new wood - this will not be so bad. If this is being logged just for greed - that I object to. It's not my property so I don't know the motive. We only had permission to walk and hunt on it; we had no say in this.

As you can see below, the trees were quite large. I expect many were at least a 100 years old. Some were probably older.

"These trees were my friends," said the Ent in Lord of the Rings. "You would think a wizard would know better."

Alas, age does not always wisdom bring. Farewell to you, my speechless friends. Thank you for shading me and offering me shelter in my time of need.

I am sorry I am not able to do the same for you.


  1. I feel so sad reading this. I remember a similar feeling after Hurricane Wilma when so many trees were lost...I had no say, no just happened. That man did this makes it worse I think.

  2. How horrible. It is just so sad.


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