Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Dead, But Not Down
The sandy drive that brings you from the paved road to the house snakes past the pond, lots of oaks, palms, a sweet clump of palmettos, and this triple trunked dead tree.
When we bought this land, there were no driveways, just a cow maintained mix of woods and grassy areas. We chose this pathway in because it was away from the wet, future pond area and nicely off center.
There was only minimal road clearing to do since we curved the drive to avoid cutting trees or those beautiful palmettos.
The years of driving in and out have changed the drive from a grassy path to a sandy track. The one thing that has not changed is the triple trunked dead oak to the left of Feather. It was dead then, and like Francisco Franco...is still dead.
It looked just like that in 1986 when we bought this land. It's been through hurricanes and tropical storms during those 20 years. Living oaks of the same size have snapped off or been tipped over in those powerful storms.
Other oaks here have gone from living to lightning struck death to soil humus in that time. This subtropical environment is the land of rot and recycling...and this is oak, not cypress, cedar, or heart pine. Here oak rots fast. A crib stack of oak logs I made last year as a critter shelter is already a collapsing pile of sawdust and bark. With no freezing winters, it's a year 'round process. Unrelenting decay.
So why does this dead oak persevere?
I don't know the answer to that question.
The wood is very hard, not punky rotten. Even the pileateds leave it alone. I had to exert pretty hard just to make that little scrape above. It is definitely an oak. There's a little patch of rough bark clinging to the back of it like a name tag.That bark tells me it was a live oak.
In the end, it doesn't matter why this dead oak has such staying power. I'm just glad it does. I think it adds some nice contrast and character to the overwhelming green of the driveway.
Feather thinks it doesn't throw much shade.