I am looking forward to Sunday. If the weather cooperates, I am hoping to spend a few hours collecting my windfall of tree limbs that the weekend storm delivered. And if it is not too cold, for either me or the wood, I hope to saw many of the limbs into stove-sized fuel.
There is something compellingly intimate about sawing wood. When you saw, you have to hold the wood steady, gently restraining it, feeling it respond, reassuring it, noting where it resists and where it gives. You must avoid the knots and gently work it through. When the pile begins to grow around your feet, you gather up the sections you have cut, cradle them in your arms, and carry them to the woodpile. You then gently place them down, like a sleeping child whom you don’t want to wake. (Stacking wood is a whole other spiritual discipline.)
Sawing is a remarkably engaging, full-body experience. Kind of like meditation, I would imagine. No music; no extraneous thoughts; total concentration. And when you are done, there is a rush of instant gratification; instant satisfaction; and physical exhaustion.
One kind of tree populates most of our property: the tulip poplar. I can see why it is a favorite of woodworkers. It is easy to saw and easy to work into cabinets and veneers. The trunks shoot straight up for 50-80 feet without a branch in the way. That’s a nice run of wood (though not fun for kids who like to climb trees).
But if the tulip poplar is a sweetheart of a tree to saw, the beech is a bi***.
It is very hard and very dense. I would rather saw 10 poplar branches than one beech. Thankfully, we only have one beech that is big enough to drop branches - so I only had to saw two fallen beech limbs.
And the tree itself is gorgeous - it stands like a sentry in the center isle of our driveway, spreading its shade over half the house in the summer. I don’t know what we would do without it.
My nascent apple orchard is still just a gleam in our eyes. One of the three 5-foot trees I planted last summer died. The two that are left are struggling through the winter. We will see if blossoms return in the spring. I bought three more - these are just twigs though - to plant in the spring alongside the larger ones. Perhaps one day they will be gnarled and fruit-filled, if the deer don’t get them first.
All this growing personal fascination with trees - and just at the time when a new organization, the Baltimore Tree Trust, is being formed. Baltimore City has a 25% tree canopy cover. That is not enough. It wants and needs to return to 40%. Such a move will improve the social, structural, economic, spiritual, and physical health of the city and its residents. The BTT is designed to make that happen. I will report back to you with more information as this initiative grows. It will need our help.