I've always had a thing for history. But beyond knowing a little about the two other sets of owners our house has had in its 16 year history, we don't know much about this piece of land. A little glimpse of that missing history found the light of day yesterday.
Our orchard is at the back of the property, where the fruit trees fight for sunlight with much bigger maples, red cedars, firs, alders and hemlocks. Last spring we had some trees limbed and one taken down in an attempt to get more light into critical parts of the garden. The hardest decision concerned two hemlock trees that were growing out of the stump of a big old growth cedar - they put a few of the trees in the orchard in shade all through the morning. Eventually we decided just to top them as a compromise, but it became apparent as the growing year progressed and we added more trees to the orchard that the hemlocks had to go.
So yesterday Bud came with his crew and took them down. We were sad to see them go, but very happy about the new light that flooded into the orchard as they came down. And when they were gone we had a chance to really appreciate the old growth cedar stump they were growing out of. There's a slice of history! You can see the notches the lumberjacks cut for the boards they stood on as they cut the tree down. Some of those notches are 8 or 10 feet off the ground, which must have required something of a balancing act. We wonder how many years ago that was, and whether they had gas saws by then or were still doing all the cutting by hand. It's fun to imagine what the property looked like then: no people, no fences, no garden beds, no buildings. no property lines.
On a side note, the young fellow in Bud's crew who actually climbed the trees to cut them down is a recent immigrant from the south of England, where he learned his trade. Somehow that doesn't quite make sense to us, but he certainly seemed to know what he was doing. And he was thrilled about the cedar stump, and being so close to its history.