Sunday, March 7, 2010


Saturday under a clear sunny sky, I decided to take a walk down Cold Brook Road, a dirt lane across from Wit's End.
From a spring along the way, daylilies are already emerging.
Mr. Peacock is making a racket!
I was very sad to note that the katsura tree I planted in front of the chicken coop is going BALD. That stands for Bark Atrophy Lichen Decline, a lethal syndrome.
Since nobody offered a better name, I made one up myself to describe the condition of trees.
Cold Brook Road isn't quite a mile long.
All along, the trees uniformly are shrinking, shriveling, and going BALD.
Some of them are completely denuded of bark already.
This young pair of cedars are typical. The one on the left is totally brown; the one on the right soon will be.
I used to love to walk down these country lanes and did just so about every day, for years.
Now it is really depressing to see the universal deterioration.
This group of trees has been culled for some time. There are stacks of logs on the ground.
The tops of the crowns have many broken branches.
This tree is listing, as are many - their root systems are rotting.
Here is an example of the Lichen in BALD.
Lesions like this are to be found wherever the lichen is this advanced.
Up until now lichens were spreading but stayed fairly flat against the bark.
They are starting to grow thicker.
Holes like this are appearing on trunks and branches everywhere.
Grotesque gnarling is becoming more common.
At the far end of Cold Brook is a large farm that has been in the same family for generations.
There is a big pond on the other side of the creek.
This young tree with BALD has the bright green lichen, and splitting bark.
This area of Oldwick is beautifully preserved. For the most part, newer structures are in keeping with the colonial style.
Here is a black maple.
The bark is curling away from the trunk.
Another is weeping - the lower left is wet.
The air looks so clear it is hard to believe it is dirty.
I read one complaint from a woman who lost power in the last blizzard and was melting snow over a fire for water. The pan was filthy, she said.
This row of pines is very thin.
The ground beneath is covered in cones.
Sap is pouring out, and the bark is splitting, revealing the red beneath.
Old barns dot the fields.
A little Jack Russell defended his terrain.
When a place has so much charm,
why would anyone build a monstrosity like this energy-gobbling hulk?


  1. Hi Gail,
    BALD made us laugh, in that sick, sad, what-else-can-you-do-but-laugh type of laugh.

  2. catman306 here: having problems with addressing;

    The trees have been weakened and now opportunistic infections of various types have moved in. I can show you trees with the exact and similar conditions in my yard and back in the woods here in NE Georgia. There's a 200 year old white oak 20 feet from where I sit that is loosing its bark exactly as you have photographed in NJ. Everywhere the under-story of the woods is thinning to transparency where just 5 years ago it was thicket and 30 years ago was 'jungle'.

    Our species evolved in the forests. When the climate and tree cutters no longer allow forests, we humans will have no longer have a friendly climate and habitat and the Earth won't support many of us.

    A forest is much more than a collection of trees. It is an eco-system. It's the eco-system that maintains our environment. Dying trees are only a symptom of a failing eco-system.

    Here's 40 year old music that said it all and still does:

    Nature's Way - Spirit

    There's plenty of music and essays from the 60s that make it clear that awareness of environmental degradation is not new. Some of us knew but couldn't do enough to prevent this disaster.


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