Friday, March 19, 2010

JCP&L the sequel

A tip from a reader sent me to Route 17 heading north from Oldwick, and sure enough, there was carnage on the roadside, just as I reported on Route 202 in this earlier post.
By the time I arrived, most of the limbs and carcasses had been removed.
A few remained, and the road was lined with stumps.
Our landscape is becoming impoverished.
There is a mountain of wood tucked away behind a barn.
No wonder the power company has to mow down the trees mercilessly, they are dying anyway.
As this one that is tipped over reveals, the centers of trunks are rotting and hollow.
Since I was out inspecting that road anyway, I visited a couple of farms in that neck of the woods.
I saw this fabulous kitty without a tail! He ran when he saw me,
and slipped into the barn, so I followed him inside.
The interior of big old barns always has a mystical effect on me. It feels like entering a shrine or a church.

It was very dark and quiet inside, even with bright sunshine streaming in through small windows, and a few cracks in the siding.
The overwhelming smell of the hay was wonderful.
It is stacked high in the lofts.
Tucked away in a corner was this delightful wooden wagon.
This farm has numerous outbuildings and sheds for tractors and other equipment.
The baby lambs were out for a gambol, it was a beautiful warm, sunny afternoon.
Above the pastures is the orchard, which is a delicate haze of pink as buds swell.
The farmer has been pruning the branches which still lie on the ground beneath the trees.
There is a mix of apples and peaches, and I saw to my horror a growth I have only ever seen in one other place before.
The branches are just covered with what I now suspect are cankers caused by a fungus.
As everybody knows, toxic greenhouse gases weaken the immune system of trees, leaving them vulnerable to insects, disease, and fungus, the "sharks that smell blood in the water" as described in this video.
It couldn't be any more graphically demonstrated than on these fruit trees.
It is so pervasive I cannot imagine these trees living out the summer, let alone producing any apples or peaches.
Even heavily pruned, what's left is still covered with these appalling growths.
I next stopped by at a dairy farm, where I discovered to my delight that they sell their own cheeses - cheddar, muenster, gouda, and a few other types. They are all delicious! Of course the trees are in bad shape.
Most awesome (DON'T TELL ANYONE) they will allow me to try some raw milk! I have always wanted to taste it, and the farmer tells me, there's no comparison to pasteurized. I have to go back some day between 5 and 7, when the cows are milked.
The farm is in the shadow of high-tension power lines, which spoils the view.
But the baby calves are just as cute! This one is only a week old.
Everywhere around, trees are crashing down.
These two views of the base indicate it just gave out.
Pines are disappearing as their needles drop, and many have become indistinguishable this time of year from the leafless deciduous trees.
Here's another tree that just fell over. It began losing bark a while ago, so I knew it was only a matter of time until it came down.
It's a classic example of BALDing - Bark Atrophy Lichen Decline.
I wouldn't even waste time anymore on foresters who say there is no link between lichen growth like this and trees dying.
In the same yard as that fallen tree are several still standing, but on the way out with the same symptoms - bark peeling off, cankers, and holes.
I'm not sure what this little flowering tree is, I'm guessing some sort of witchhazel.
It's got a rather spectacular case of BALDing syndrome.
And lots of tiny but very pretty flowers.
It's normal for witchhazel to bloom very early but not so for cherries.
This one has just begun, there are many buds yet to open.
Just next to it, the lichen is growing rapidly on this rock as well.
Depending on species, the bark may curl off, fall in patches, or in this case, split vertically.
Long before I realized all our contemporary trees are doomed, I have mourned the loss of the really big, old growth forests of New England that existed before people started chopping them down, and I have yearned for the chance to see one that is intact. The closest I have gotten is in towns that were settled early, like Newport, that have estates dating back to the earliest century when Europeans arrived, and where some individual specimens were allowed to survive.

RPauli sent me a link to his collection of vintage postcards with pictures of logging on the West Coast - it's amazing to see how huge the trees were, and how cavalier their lumbermen (and by that, I don't mean a gallant or chivalrous man, I mean, showing arrogant or offhand disregard!). Here is a sample:
Yesterday, March 19, it was 72 degrees F at 5:30 in the afternoon. I killed a mosquito that was hovering around me as I sat on the patio. Today it is predicted to reach 75.

I have to rub my eyes and remember that this is so insanely not even approaching normal, and here is the latest word from NASA predicting this will be the hottest year, ever!

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