Thursday, February 23, 2017

Wood and water and moving earth.

© 2017 Joshua Stark

I didn't grow up with a fireplace, nor a fire pit.  When I was a kid, we burned some of our trash in the back yard like good people did then, but that was it.

When camping, of course we built a fire.  But at home, we didn't have a woodpile, or anything of the sort.

Now, I've decided that I want a fire pit in our back yard (for days when we are allowed to burn, of course -- like good people do today).  We've collected some river rocks from Craigslist, and have a decent little camp-like pit.  We also have a small rock garden next to it, and I moved one of our raised beds to make some room (pics when it looks better).

We are also getting plenty of wood from downed branches off of our walnut, redwood and cedar trees, and I do not plan to buy wood to burn.

However, since everything is wet, we are having quite a time getting something to burn...

In my search for how people put up wood, I did stumble upon this little stand idea on Pinterest, and put it to use:





It's very simple:  a cinder block, two 2x4's, and  firewood.  No glue, no nails.  It ain't pretty, but form follows function, right?

Around the neighborhood, fruit trees are in bloom.  It feels early, because it is (climate change is real, folks).  The rains have been, until today, relentless -- for the first time, I had to cut a channel around one side of the house, to drain away some water.

Today, there's some wind, and a little chill (say, forty degrees), but there's also sun!  I think we get a couple days of respite before the next storm rolls in this weekend.

And speaking of wind and storms (because, let's face it, I live in California):

Queue ominous music...
Somewhere, in that tangle, thirty to fifty feet up, sits a widowmaker.  On the other side, about ten feel lower, is another one.

A widowmaker, for those who don't know, is a large, broken branch.  My redwood here is over 100 feet tall, and so the perspective is lost in a photo -- but for scale, consider that each of those larger branches is, effectively, a small tree, hanging horizontally and sixty feet up.

There is a general understanding that redwoods are light weight woods, and this is true up to a point.  However, none of those branches up there are dried out -- they are all filled with water, which makes them still pretty danged heavy, and some of them have got to be thirty feet long.  And since F=MA, we've had our troubles over the years with this tree, including roof, car, and fence damage.

Widowmakers are one of those wild, foreboding natural phenomena... especially if you are a logger. But, not exclusively.  Back when I was a State Park Interpreter, my docents told me a story of a fifth grade class visiting the Forest of Nisene Marks in the Santa Cruz mountains. 

This forest is a patch of second-growth redwood, and also the infamous epicenter of the Loma Prieta quake way back in the 20th Century.  My visitor center, tasked with interpreting the Forest, would lead groups of fifth graders on a nature and history walk on one of its amazing, dark trails, talking about fairy rings and cathedral stands, banana slugs and eucalyptus.  And Loma Prieta and widowmakers.

During one such walk, after the earthquake/widowmaker talk, the class was gifted with a particularly pointed lesson: a 5 or so scale earthquake and a gigantic branch that fell among them.  Thankfully, nobody was hurt.  But, it's outdoor education like these that shape and mold young minds...

I'll be getting out the ladder later today or tomorrow, getting a rope onto these branches, and yanking them down if I can.  Of the four seasons in California, we are on the back-side of Flood, which means we've gone through three of them.  Only one left.

(Bonus points for knowing the four seasons of California.)

1 comment:

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

Greetings from the UK.

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.