My husband and I decided to get another estimate for the removal of a dying pine tree and another forked, leaning pine from our yard. In the process we discovered another dead tree, a young White Fir. We also became aware of the numerous pines in our neighborhood whose needles have turned brown over the past couple of months.
How can we protect the trees we have left? The feature that attracted us to this property last year was the wooded lot. Now we are discovering that the thinning we knew needed to be done must be moved closer to the top of our To Do list. A well- spaced forest is a healthier forest, especially when years of drought increase the competition for scarce moisture, and bark beetle populations are soaring. The article Bark Beetles in California Conifers by the USDA Forest Service, February 2015 was very informative and helpful in understanding what we are up against as tree custodians.
Although we have had a series of storms this winter, we have not had the prolonged cold temperatures that would kill off the beetles. And now we are heading into a mild spell with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. We are hoping that we don’t lose any more mature trees in the near future.
As I watch the hail turn to sleet and whiten the ground outside my cozy home, I am thinking about the tree that we are going to cut down. It has been attacked by bark beetles, a common occurrence since the western US has suffered severe drought during the last few years. This fact does not change how I feel about turning the beautiful Ponderosa Pine tree a few meters outside my bedroom into a stump.
I am not exactly what you would call a “tree hugger,” but I do appreciate them standing firmly attached to the earth, and I am especially fond of pine trees. When my infant grandson visited last summer, we went outside and touched the bark. There was no hugging, but it was a special moment.
This tree removal is what inspired my latest idea for a picture book. I would like to document our experience for my grandson and other children. It is a great opportunity to learn that trees get sick, and the life of a forest continues.
When the tree guy came to give us an estimate, he noticed something that my husband and I had not. What we thought was another cedar tree with unusually majestic form is in fact a Giant Sequoia. These extraordinary trees are native to the central and southern Sierra Nevada, and typically grow at a higher elevation and a bit further south than our residence. Our tree was most likely planted, along with the coastal Redwood tree behind our house, a much younger but no less beautiful conifer.
So while I am feeling sad to lose a tree that I admire for its place in our little ecosystem, another tree just a few meters away soars skyward to capture my fancy. There are many stories here to share. I will enjoy my journey.
Yesterday I was inspired to compose the first draft of the text for a children’s picture book. The story is about a young child who discovers a very personal consequence of drought when a favorite tree in the yard dies. It ends on a positive note with hope for the future. The illustrations will be collage and watercolor. Can’t wait to get started!
I found a great site to guide me in my quest for published authorship: publishedtodeath.blogspot.com. There are a multitude of resources linked to this page. So here I am, working on my strategy with a new website to build my platform and the beginnings of a plot summary for my book.
I also began to research my market. The books I found that most closely resemble my idea include Fall Walk (2013), Leaf Man (2005), The Little Yellow Leaf (2008), Fall Leaves (2014), and Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf (1991). I will continue my search, but so far have not seen anything quite like what I have in mind. I would say that my book would appeal to educated parents who are concerned about the environment and want to educate their children to be global citizens.
Of course, I realize that I have a lot of work to do. The illustrations (one for every two pages of a thirty – two page book) will not simply materialize before me. But planning is always a good idea.