Puts cows and spruce trees together for any length of time and this is what you get — trunks pruned of branches and bark rubbed smooth.
In pastures with few trees the damage is even greater for it’s here the cattle gather when sun beats down, when rain and hail pelt them, when snow falls thick and fast.
The earth also suffers as their hooves churn the soil to dust or mud holes or frozen lumps, depending on the season. Little can grow under such a pounding.
All part of the price of hamburger and steaks.
Rime — tiny ice crystals that form when supercooled water vapour freezes on contact with solid objects
Storms that pummelled the West Coast a few days ago sent moisture-laden clouds scudding over the rocks and into Alberta. When the water vapour landed here it grew into fog. Then freezing temperatures worked their magic, turning windward surfaces white with rime.
A misty grey fairyland …
The edge of the woods
Cow hair (Yes, that’s dried dung hanging off it. Cows are hard to toilet train.)
Balsam poplar Populus balsamifera
Canada thistle Cirsium arvense
White spruce Picea gluaca
Yup. Winter has launched a shot across autumn’s bow. The faint drizzle yesterday turned into several centimetres of the white stuff by morning.
North wind snow on corral
But the temps will rise later this week and the panic to install snow tires, replace the weather stripping and buy new gloves will wane. After all, winter is months way.
Wild rose hip Rosa acicularis
Indeed it was. A sky full of fluffy clouds soon became a boiling cauldron.
Wind-whipped, I stood on the gravel road breathing in the coming storm.
Autumn leaves, ripped from the poplars, blew past me. Spruce, stark against the clouds, began to shift and shake.
The roar of air gone wild filled my ears.
Then darkness enveloped me.
Stand in stillness
Where the Old Ones live.
Amid their shadows
You may hear whispers of the ancient tongue
Echo softly in the air.
September 13, 2016
Walk out on the fringe of nightfall
Where light and shadow meet
And muffled sounds drift on the cooling air.
Much is possible
When we step between worlds.
Most of us
Most of the time
Live in a manufactured world.
We need to reconnect
With what we left behind
Or never knew at all.
To touch not plywood or two-by-four but living tree
Crush needles between fingers, inhale the pine-y perfume
Trace raindrops on an aspen leaf.
We need to rub urban skin over untamed bark
Sit against the trunk
Feel the wind sway us both.
Where is your nearest tree?
Go and say hello.
Aspen poplar Populus tremuloides
Hurt happens, even to trees. Bear claws and antlers. Carpenter ants and woodpeckers. Axes, chainsaws, unwary drivers.
But how do you bandage a tree?
Ma Nature’s first aid kit has the answer. It’s the sticky goo that oozes from wounds in the bark. That sticks to your fingers, your jeans, your hair. Your dog.
You might call it sap or pitch. Maybe resin. To a botanist those terms mean different things. Most of us probably just call it pitch.
It does what needs doing — seals the wound and keeps out germs. As the liquid evaporates it hardens, like honey as it crystallizes.
Take a gander the next time you pass a tree (especially one with needles rather than leaves). Small wound? Large one? Sticky or not? Old or new? Lots of answers if you ask some questions.
Clear and sticky
Large wound on tree sealed by pitch
P.S. Sticky fingers? Rubbing alcohol is a good pitch-remover.
White spruce Picea glauca
The aspen leaves, barely unfurled, are already facing a barrage of bugs and worms intent on eating them alive.
But the aspens — and most of their leaves — are still here.
They’ve done this dance before.
Trembling aspen Populus tremuloides