After a brief explanation of our slash and burn mentality, Jer and I set them loose into an area of trees in front of the house. In that particular spot stands a group of three, tall oak trees that are almost overtaken by cedar and other pesky species. The goal that day was to give them some space and to eventually see them clearly from the "front porch" of the someday house. At first I was pretty impressed with the level of brutalality the guys brought to their attack strategy. It was all chain saws roaring and 30-something age men running, screaming, into the woods, taking down anything in their path. Very vicious. Very destructive. Very funny to watch. After an hour or so I noticed that the sawing sounds were slowing down and realized it had been some time since I'd heard the distinct crashing "Whoooosssshhh!" of a tree that had just been felled. Instead, there was just the quiet buzzing of one saw, cutting through very thin branches. I climbed over downed limbs, through cactus, and dragged away mesquite branches before seeing that the quiet buzzing came from Joe's saw which he was using to carefully prune a large cedar. In the midst of the tree massacre, one particular tree tugged at his heart strings and he felt that, if he could make it look a little tidier, maybe we'd let this one live.
Several weeks later, the tree's still standing. I guess Joe's convincing argument that the cedar provided "much needed shade" may have partially won me over. But I attribute my new fondness for the cedar to Jeff's reasoning. "It's like Methuselah," he said, "the oldest tree that ever lived." Well, no. Of course it's not. It's just a big cedar that's providing shade for rattlesnakes. Yet on the other hand, there's no telling exactly it's age or how many seasons it's seen standing in that spot for countless years. The wandering Indian tribes that we know lived here may have curled at it's base for shelter. Or the old sharecropper who tended the land sometime after emancipation may have leaned on it's trunk in the evenings after working his cotton fields. Maybe we should give a second thought to each of the trees we cut in order to make way for pasture. But then again, if I start to get weepy over each limb downed, then we'll never make the place useful. For now, Methuselah stays. We finally have a clear view of my oaks, even with the old cedar standing nearby.
(Jenna's oak grove)
(Oak grove from the "front porch.")
(Seamus surveys, and approves of, the carnage. It means he gets to eat mesquite leaves = delicacy.)