We practice some serious gratitude when witnessing a native, beneficial tree able to grow quickly, strongly, in all sorts of soil and in sun and shade.
Leavin' the magical leaves! One of nature's best gifts....
When we moved here, we initially planted Colorado Blue Spruce and White Pine because our local SWCD offered them and these native Cedars are hands down superior in every way. They outgrow these other conifers every year and with almost no mortality. If we had known this would happen, we would not have planted those other species, which aren't native to this area and are telling us they are not nearly as happy (except for one anomaly White Pine, which is happy as a kitten).
Red Cedars sometimes get a bad rap because they "invade prairies and pasture lands," but it's really all about management and the land's current hydrology, browse factor, etc. Keep them out of the prairies so the prairies can be prairies and pasture can be pasture, but let them grow in old fields and fencerows and yards and recovering forest. Eastern North America had a magnificent, spectacular forest once that we can only dream of and yes, we feel overwhelming grief for what was carelessly destroyed, but we don't dwell in that part of our knowledge because we can't. Instead we plant and plant and plant.
Reforesting a piece of land takes a long time so those trees that are early successional are key to foster slower growing species and to give one hope that the forest will return. That's what Steve and I are called to do...plant. I don't think we've ever been so drawn to anything like this other than hiking and exploring this infinitely interesting and beautiful natural world. There is redemption in such a hope-filled and important act like planting trees. We humans can't turn back the clock, but we can go forward with respect for each other and all life and take significant action to do what is right and to fix what is broken.
Red Cedars provide us with soul-satiating green in a season lacking this life-filled color, while also offering important food and shelter for all sorts of wildlife. We have Cedar Waxwings frequently feasting on the berries, American Robins nesting in them in the warm season by the DOZENS, and potentially Saw-whet Owls resting in them during migration. (Thanks to Stanley Stine with Twinsburg Parks and Recreation for this sweet little tid-bit.)
There are all sorts of little grass nests under these trees from different mammals and beautiful Bagworms hanging from limbs here and there (no they have not ever killed the trees here or ever caused significant damage and even if they did, the trees would most likely recover. One of our oaks regrew all new leaves after complete defoliation by native Datana caterpillars last year.)
The wood smells fabulous and is long lasting. The beautiful, blue, berries (actually, cones) are medicinal, edible and used to flavor gin.
Wow! We are smitten, I guess. Well, really we are smitten with just about everything wild and free and functional.
Thanks to Stanley, again, for sharing a film we want to watch that is completely relevant to this post: Call of the Forest.
We wish you all a joyous harvest season and some significant time outdoors.
For fun since you might have some extra time over Thanksgiving or just need to jam while cooking, here's some tunes I've enjoyed while writing this post:
Lera Lynn Wolf Like Me
Indigenous Things We Do
Mandolin Orange Old Ties and Companions
Samantha Crain Equinox
Joni Mitchell Woodstock