I’ve been thinking about what it is about Oregon that thrills me so. And Saturday we took a drive to the William L Finley NWR as well as to Alsea and Mary’s Peak and I think I understand better just what that is.
It’s ‘umbling to stand beneath a 250’ tall tree and consider your own longevity, and importance; to consider what you know about the universe and whether that is any comparison to a life form that can survive much longer than any of us and will experience more of this world than the greatest of world travelers.
On the other hand, there’s the whole thing about human ability to form and fashion the earth as we think we want — and yet being unable to control the climate/weather.
We drove to Mary’s Peak — the highest point in Oregon on the Coastal Range — and no matter how much we wanted to see the view from some 3500 feet — all we saw was fog.
I’m sure it looked wonderful from up there — but in the fog this was all we saw.
As we headed down off the mountain — and towards Alsea and the Coast we came out of the fog for a while and we could actually see for some distance towards the SW.
On our way down the hill we also saw something else that was a bit humbling — to me anyway.
You may know that Oregon has rules about lumbering; lumbered land must be replanted to assure that Oregon has a sustainable crop of trees. As we made our way down the hill we passed an area of clear-cutting — all the harvestable trees had been cleared. While I got out to see the last scene I looked down and noticed the tiny replants right at my feet. .
Why was this humbling? Let me tell you. While we were working for the USFS our boss there, Belva, shared some stories about her career at the Forest Service. She started there some 20+ years ago as a forest tech — and her first job was planting trees — just like these — 730 some per acre in the sun, in the rain, in 90º heat and in 20º cold.
All of that may not be so humbling. But as a midwesterner I had never factored in the fact that this is OREGON — and there aren’t a lot of flat places in the forest. Planting trees in the forest means planting trees on a 45º angle, hanging on to anything you can to keep your footing — in the rain, and sun, and wind. I looked down the hill on which these little replants had been placed and I was literally dizzy. And there she was 20+ years ago — a young woman out of college doing what she wanted to do with her life. Planting trees.
It was good for me to think about the actual process of planting. I’ve planted trees before. Seedlings, replanting young trees and even some balled and burlapped 2″ caliper trees. But not 700+ an acre, hour after hour, day after day. That was work.
If you love the forest and the natural world, say thanks to a forester for helping keep the world you love the world you love. And thanks for stopping by; I’ll talk with you again tomorrow.