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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My Fallen White Pine

It has been exactly 30 years since we bought our 20 acres of woods here in the rural Piedmont of Virginia. I am certain that, despite all my wood-cutting, there could be nearly twice as much timber here as there was in 1976. I mean in the sheer volume of wood, not the number of trees, since that number should be close to the same, considering the ones that I've also planted.

While cutting a big hickory that had gotten a good whack from Hurricane Fran about 10 years ago and was about to fall over soon (and misidentifying it as an oak), way up the hill across the creek, I finally noticed part of an even larger Eastern White Pine lying on the ground not a hundred feet from where I had been working for days. This was roughly equivalent to plucking a chicken while never noticing a dead cow just a few yards away.

It looks as if lightning hit the pine at its tip and raced down its whole length to the ground. The tree's flesh along the path that the lightning took died, and that led some time later to the whole tree dying, and eventually the top 88 feet of it snapped off and fell with what must've been a memorable splash, while leaving a gigantic snag still standing, which is at least 20 feet high, and that means that the tree was originally over 100 feet tall, with the trunk having an average diameter of close to two feet.

The part that fell, with all its branches, made up an enormous amount of easily cut and essentially dry wood for me to come along and cut up and haul away, and though it's some distance from my house and that does a number of my back, since I have only my garden cart, I've really been enjoying doing that, and I've been wondering why it interests me so much and why I feel that I absolutely have to do it.

I guess it comes from the human instinct to "bring order" to things. I'm thinking of myself as "cleaning up" my woods, though nobody else can see it and I know quite well that Nature is perfectly happy with things as they are. In fact I am probably even taking away "food" that Nature intended to give to future generations of white pines and other trees.

I guess this desire that people almost universally have to bring "order" to their environment is one of the main things that distinguishes us as a species, and it may even lie at the heart of the strong desire that the Creationists and the Intelligent Design people have to see some hand as being responsible for all the incredible structure and workings of things, though the ID'ers are trying to disguise the fact that they think that that hand belongs to a deity called "God."


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