Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Terra Nova Elephant Tree.

When you plant a tree in your yard, there’s a good chance you’re creating something that will outlive you. It may even outlive your yard.

The Terra Nova Rural Park is a 63 acre parcel of land cobbled together from abandoned farms and old residential properties, some of which dated back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most of the old houses are gone, leaving not even a foundation, but rutted roadways and fragments of wooden fence reveal former property lines. In places there are vibrant patches of perennials - leopard's bane and loosestrife -- the remains of backyard gardens. Where sat the houses that accompanied them?

For me it's the trees that really fascinate. Scattered along the old drives and within the former lots are an eclectic mix of large, ancient trees -- shade trees, windbreaks, and orchard species -- a mix of North American and European, with a few natives thrown in. This place is itself a festival of trees, an accidental arboretum, thanks to the practicality, interests or whimsy of the onetime landowners of this corner of the island.

I wonder:

How many children climbed this chestnut, one of this pair as seen from afar, and where did they hang the tires?

Horse chestnut leaves and bark.

How about this bustle-rumped walnut. Was it planted for its fruits, or as an ornament? What torments of wind, weather, and weight led it to be pruned into this quasi-quasimodo? <== (I take no pride in typing that, but there it is.)

And my favourite, this European beech, at the end of a long drive of birches.

Could its planter have conceived of what a beautiful monster it would become?

Here they stand, still, monuments to passed lives, another world. I love running my hands along the bark, checking out the nooks and crannies. Especially that beech. I grew up in a place where American beech dominated mature forests. We called them elephant trees, and would try put our arms around them. Patting that smooth bark takes me home. So thank you, whoever planted this tree -- these trees --so long ago.


Dave said...

I love "quasi-Quasimodo"! (And I love American beeches. It's heartbreaking to watch them all being felled by a non-native blight, which is moving down from the north and is only about 50 miles from here.)

Mary said...

The beech is great - brings to my mind the magnificent copper beeches I used to see in New England. But that walnut's not too shabby, either!

Anonymous said...

The Beech are beautiful. There is a nice grove of them, including a Copper Beech at VanDusen Garden.