Winter Trees

By , February 10, 2011

If you’re following Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons as a lunar calendar with me, today is the first quarter moon, at least in my time zone. The U.S. calendar, based on the east coast, shows it coming tomorrow. The poem for this moon is Winter Trees. Viewing the seasons as we do, I’d hoped to finesse this poem into January, rather than February, but it didn’t work. “No matter,” I reasoned as I set the schedule up, “February’s always very wintry here.” The local forecaster I trust the most has told me that, because of the current La Ninã, we’d see more cold temperatures and less snow in the coming months. And yet, recently, our weather has been very springlike: temperatures close to 40° and light skiffs of snow, but mostly rain.

I’ve found this a bit of a problem, as we have committed to doing some tree work around the homestead. We need to shorten some of the trees in the wind break, to allow more light to the cabin and garden beds in the yard, and we need to remove a few trees that are becoming unsafe.

We try to trim our trees, or fell any live ones (only when we absolutely must) in the winter, when the sap is out of the trunk. The life of the tree has literally retreated to the roots, so that any trimming causes less harm to the plant, and any outright felling gives us drier, less sappy wood.

The problem with this strategy is that so many winter days bring high winds, which makes tree work dangerous. We’ve had to put off the bulk of the work till now, and, unfortunately, things are warming up enough that the sap is beginning to flow in some trees. Time is running out, which is unfortunate. I don’t like to feel rushed doing this type of work. That leads to shoddy work and mistakes.

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