Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Trees Falling Down

It snowed and it has been well below freezing. and this is entirely unreasonable. Not unexpected -- New England in April can be wildly unpredictable, but even so. The strong April sun is melting some of the snow, but whole areas on the lawn and in the woods are still covered.

From my desk under the kitchen window I see directly out to the back yard and up the hill to the road that passes behind our house. In April it's just a tangle of brown trunks and roadside electric wires, with the only greenery the garlic mustard spreading on the woodland floor. From a distance my eye caught this one trunk all askew.

It's right at the edge of the road. I went out and climbed the hill to investigate.

The trees along the road are all weed trees, and they are tangled up in bittersweet and poison ivy vines. I don't do anything to tend the road edge. This tree seems to have been broken off at the base and the only reason it's not lying on the ground is that it got caught in a snarl of vines on other trees.

I couldn't even see what had happened to the trunk. It was just uprooted.

Just a few feet away to the left, two other trees were uprooted and tilting over in the opposite direction.

Earlier this spring I found one of the trees I had planted years ago, a 'UConn' white pine, uprooted and lying on the ground with barely any root mass left. It was also at the top of the hill, near the road, but not right on the roadside edge.

I know trees fall down in the forest all the time. And this narrow strip of untended, vine-clogged, trashy trees along the road is hardly a healthy forest.

But what is causing so many trees to break off at the root flare and fall down all at once this year?

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