Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Southern Version of 'Up North'

In my last post I mentioned that we were enjoying the trees on our land, but afterwards it occurred to me that I hadn’t really taken the time to look at them. It was sort of like a reverse of that old chestnut, ‘couldn’t see the forest for the trees.’ I did a mini survey and discovered that we have seven varieties I think I’ve identified and several others that I have yet to put a name to.

At the very top of the photo, to the right of the coffee cup is a chestnut seed. There are lots of seeds still on the tree and on the ground. When I have the time I’d like to learn how to roast them to make them eatable. Moving clockwise from the chestnut is a leaf and seed pod from a catalpa tree. There were lots of them in my Milwaukee neighborhood when I was a kid. We called them Indian cigar trees, though I don’t know how that name came about.

At the bottom of the photo is a tree I had never seen or heard of. My neighbors tell me it is a water oak. If it didn’t have acorns I wouldn’t believe it was an oak at all, though Wikipedia seems to confirm what they told me. To the left of the oak is, I believe, a species of Cyprus. It is the only one on the property. Above the Cyprus is a species of spruce. The tree is surrounded by vines and undergrowth – a situation I want to deal with soon because a vine known as English ivy can kill a tree. Between the spruce and coffee cup is a pecan. As with the chestnut, I’d like to learn how to make the nut eatable.

The oak to the left and pine in the background are especially impressive. Some rough measurements and calculations put both trees at somewhere between 65 to 70 feet tall. Using a tape measure at a height of 48" on both trees, the pine measured 75’’ in circumference with a diameter of 23.9”. The oak has an incredible 183” circumference and 53.28” diameter.

In my early teens acorns and pine cones brought back from family summer vacations were like religious objects to me...emissaries from 'up north'. I'd line them up on my dresser and think about where I got them from, and wish time would go quickly so we could go back soon. Oh sure...there were oaks and pines in some of Milwaukee's parks but that was not the same. They were in controlled city environments, like animals on display in a zoo. The real up north was Wisconsin forests that were wild and un-managed. Our backyard in Rossville, Georgia isn't up north, but the smell of the earth; the sound of the acorns and pine cones falling to the ground plus the raucous calls of blue jays and crows are pretty darn close.The chestnuts and pecans are a bonus. I'll take it.

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