Saturday, December 19, 2009

Formerly Private Parts

Two lovely daughters will be away over Christmas so I actually got to have all three together to celebrate early!
We had puppy visitors, and of course I had to make a buche de noel, replete with meringue mushrooms, for dessert.
It was a small but splendid feast.

The next day (yesterday), was clear and sunny, so I seized the opportunity to take some pictures ahead of the impending blizzard.
One of the best indicators that trees are in wholesale decline is the number of houses that can now be seen from the road, which were formerly completely masked by vegetation. So many trees have died and been removed that this originally private place is now wide open to public view. Not only can you see the once-shrouded house, you can see all the way to the cottage in back.
The trees that do remain along this road are obviously severely compromised.
Most have been colonized by the lichen.
Almost all of them look stunted and malformed.
And others are completely dead.
This property has a large house, a caretaker's cottage, and barn. None were visible from this bridge over the Black River until recently.
Black River Road parallels the river but it used to be you would never have known it, because you couldn't see the water...until the trees started collapsing.
This enormous mansion isn't so private anymore.
And neither is this one.
But no wonder, the native trees along the road are clearly decayed. A zoom into the crown shows what is going on up there.
Desiccated branches like this are ubiquitous. In fact it was impossible to find a tree along this route that didn't have some percentage of rotting limbs.
Fallen trees are everywhere to be found.
And what you don't see are those that have fallen and been removed.
Pretty fungus find a home on a felled specimen.
The owners of this formerly private place spent in the six figures to landscape.
But no amount of money is sufficient to preserve their privacy against a toxic atmosphere.
Not when the indigenous trees have open wounds like this.
This is a much more modest home that was tucked away behind conifers. Even though it's fairly close to the road, the screen was impenetrable until the needles started rapidly shedding over a year ago.
This was a solid barrier for the almost 30 years I have lived here.
But clearly they are not going to recover from this degree of needle loss.
Many of the branches are completely bare.
Looking across the river, the Pottersville Deli is now visible.
And no wonder. Those pines that stand between the Deli and the river that aren't already completely bare soon will be.
The important thing to note is the trend. I am not certain of what chemical reactions are occurring to kill vegetation, but I am certain that this trajectory is only going one way.
In front of the Deli, this maple has the usual black bark, which has recently started falling off in chunks.
In addition to turning black, the bark is host to a couple of kinds of lichen.
This sort of raw exposure is becoming familiar of late, perhaps the cold weather is making the bark pop off. It's easy to find pieces at the base of trees now.
Now lets take a gander at the trees around the Pottersville branch of the Peapack-Gladstone Bank.
There are a few trees around the little parking lot, and every single one could be a poster case for tree decline.
An examination of the first reveals a seriously split trunk and another unsettling trend, patches of bare earth. The branches on high are losing bark.
This tree appears to be crumbling.
We are expecting quite a winter storm and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see many broken branches from the weight of the snow.
Here is yet another seriously damaged tree, in front of the Purnell School.
The campus used to be obscured but now you can see the buildings.
And how are the shrubs faring? This yew looks horrid.
And this one is worse.
The remaining needles are scorched, and the lichen is spreading.
These pines that once concealed a backyard and the firehouse beyond are dying.
All this surrounding one little bank!
Heading east from the village is one of my favorite rows of lichen-encrusted trees.
One after the other, they are each solidly in its grip.
Now you know the lichen likes dead things, because it grows on rocks, and here makes interesting patterns on the rails of the fence.
Quite pretty, really!
But their presence seems to go in lockstep with decaying branches.
This line at the top of Pottersville Road is one of the most explicit examples - although there are so many others, I could spend all day every day taking pictures of this phenomena.
I quite like this one. By the time I got here, the light was fading, but it's got particularly brightly colored versions.
And with the red vines of a climbing hydrangea, it's almost Christmasy!
Of course, it's quite peculiar that the hydrangea is budding out, and even more peculiar that the daffodils I first noticed over a week ago are continuing to grow.
If they bloom I will be thrilled.
Was Copenhagen a failure? This blogger has a negative opinion of the outcome, and I mostly concur. I didn't for a minute expect a legally binding agreement, especially not one that genuinely takes into account the science. Perhaps it is okay as a first step - at least, every one of the participants acknowledged to the world that climate change is being caused by human activity and must be stopped.

However the lack of any concrete action makes me feel it is even more important to get people to realize they are being impacted in their own backyards. That's why I write this blog. We are destroying not just remote rainforest habitats and exotic expendable animals.

We are destroying our own trees, the foundation of our ecosystem, right now. If we don't stop, we will have famine everywhere in the US. Rich and poor will suffer with ultimately very little to distinguish their agony.

George Monbiot had a good column in the Guardian about an even larger issue than climate change - changing human nature.

RPauli sent me this link about tree aspiration, which more or less boils down to the fact that nobody, not even scientists, know what mysterious processes will be affected as we tinker with the composition of the atmosphere. Which is disturbing.

And here is yet another story about ocean acidification, the "evil twin" of climate change.

I am looking forward to taking pictures of snow, for fun!

1 comment:

  1. And it is so lovely to see the family... photos blend into trees and fungi... all one big family. How lovely !


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