Saturday, October 24, 2009

Looking Up

The changing leaves tend to make me spend more time looking up as I walk through the woods. The tree canopy is thick enough here that sunlight hasn’t shown through since spring. As the leaves fall, beams of sunlight begin to illuminate the tall tree trunks. This area of tall trees could be thought of as tall timber country, except for the fact that timber implies logs destined to become lumber and these trees will not be cut.

The tall Shagbark Hickories display their characteristic loose, peeling bark. Somehow, you don’t seem to notice this bark in the deep shadows of summer. I wonder if this is the type of tree an Indiana Bat would like to call home.

The timing was all off for a colorful fall season this year. Walnut and Ash dropped most of their leaves before the Sugar Maples began to yellow. Clumps of bare stemmed trees gave the appearance of smoky, unfocused patches in the forest canopy. In this grouping, a single ash is still clinging to some of its leaves.

I’m used to seeing defective trees in the woods. I’m sorry; I mean to refer to them as “trees with character”. I took this to be another multiple stump sprout.

When I looked up, I found one trunk becoming an oak and the other becoming a Tulip Poplar. The poplar overtops the oak, but based on the growth rates for these species at Blue Jay Barrens, I’m guessing they are about the same age.

A closer look at the base reveals two distinct individuals battling for dominance. It’ll be interesting to see how this fight progresses. It would really be interesting to see what’s happening at the interface between the two trees. Could the poplar and oak possibly merge to become one Frankenstein organism? My adult self says it’s more likely that one will die and its decomposition will remove needed support, causing the other to fall. My kid self expects to be picking up pop-corns from beneath this tree in a few years.

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