Mighty Oak Felled


Tree down. Cutters inspect work.

White oak, a dead tree standing.

Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.
~Kahlil Gibran

Recently Cal Fire knocked on my door to tell me they were cutting down the old oak tree whose branches hung over my yard. So I said great. The tree is dead and I have been fearful for at least a decade that its heavy branches might fall on my truck. I have the good fortune to live next door to these buff young firefighters here in fire country in that I live in a 130-year-old wood house, and can’t get fire insurance despite the fact that my house has been here from before there was a town.

Just up the road is the Sequoia National Forest, a corner of which is managed in a section called Mountain Home. Trees are one of those environmental flashpoints. Many dream of a forest primeval but was it ever so?

“American Indians’ use of fire as a management tool changed the entire ecology of the forest. Burning increased the range of pines, oaks and other forest types that flourish under a frequent fire regime. Agriculture in the Americas originated more than 5,000 years ago. By 1500, indigenous people had cleared millions of acres for crops. Everywhere in the Americas they also regularly set fire to hundreds of millions of acres to improve game habitat, facilitate travel, reduce insect pests, remove cover for potential enemies, improve conditions for berries to grow, and drive game.”

A tree’s a tree. How many more do you need to look at? </>–Ronald Reagan

And what does any of this have to do with electronic publishing? Your thoughts?


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