Tag Archives: trees


On our recent vacation at Sylvan Lake in Paha Sapa, I was very surprised to find logging in progress within a few hundred feet of the lake. Right on the Harney Peak trailhead, and around that entire area, I found swaths of fresh cut stumps, logs, branches and debris, all connected by muddy ruts and tracks from equipment. The trail itself was torn up very badly by this activity.

This was my first time as a witness to logging. It isn’t exactly “clear-cutting,” where entire areas of the forest are removed all at once. But, it did make a much bigger destructive path than I had imagined/hoped.

One stump that I spent some time next to revealed just how much life and time was destroyed to make some paper and decks. You don’t get a real feel for the size and age of the stump shown above, until you know that I carefully counted 238 rings on that stump. 238 years of wisdom and life, chopped down.

I’m  a treehugger, in the purest sense of the word, so this was painful. I was particularly stumped by the mess left behind. The track ruts from the equipment, the branches strewn about seemingly waiting to dry up and invite raging fire, and the scores of smaller trees that seem to have been felled and left behind.

It became my meditation for the evening, and continued the following morning. Sitting in destruction, death. And in life and beauty. All around me. I noticed how even the stumps and killed trees where beautiful in ways that I wouldn’t have noticed if they were still standing. It was an eclipse, an unexpected darkness. But also a new sunrise, a new beginning. And all of it was beautiful in the sadness. I found peace in not judging the loggers or the forest managers or you and me for using the paper these wise ones became. I found peace in just enjoying the beauty and the learning in the moment. And I found a window into deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of it all. The responsibility, the sorrow, the anticipation, the confusion, the new dawn, the forgiveness–all were mine, and ours.

Then, on the way down, I decided to run the treacherous paths cut by the loggers. It was a bit dangerous and very exhilarating.

[update 6/29: Corey has probably solved the logging mystery. Read the comments…]


Posted by on June 29, 2010 in hiking, presencing, rants, trees


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Jobs in the Trees

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on making history. Now that you’re hard work on legislation to transform health care is complete, it’s time for jobs. Past time, I guess. So, if we the people are going to be paying to make more jobs, then let’s make that investment in places that matter most. As you already know, and can see from this nice graphic I borrowed from the Alliance for Community Trees (which they first borrowed from the folks at Grist), green industries are a doubly good investment since they create jobs for Americans and help slow down the environmental destruction we’ve become so good at. It sure would be nice if our grandchildren–yours and mine–can eat good food and have water to drink and things like that. That might be even more important than making money.

And, believe it or not, the best place to put our money into green jobs is not in road and bridge repairs or shiny new cars. It’s not even in great things like windmills or bio-energy or better insulating our homes, even though those are super levers in the effort to burn less oil.

Mr. President, the jobs are in the trees. And by spending money on planting and caring for trees and the land, a whole bunch of really neat other things begin to happen too. Our air gets cleaner, for free. Our soils hold on to and clean our precious water much better. Our lands bear fruit. And vegetables too (I know Mrs. Obama will especially like that one). More and more people will grow and eat real food instead of chemicals in disguise. Best of all, our people will begin to spend less time in and on concrete, and discover how much they love nature. They might even remember that we are all part of her–one big family of families living and breathing on one small planet. Then, I think we’ll begin to take better care of her, and of each other. And lots of these troubles we’re trying to fix will become much smaller troubles.

Very sincerely,

P.S. — I know you have a pretty huge to-do list, being the leader of the free world and all. Thanks for taking political risks to do what is right for all of us.

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Posted by on March 22, 2010 in activism, global warming, politics, trees


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Sleep Walking and a Cottonwood

The Cottonwood is probably my favorite tree of all, even though I’m quite allergic to them. The majesty and dance of a mature Cottonwood just makes my soul smile–maybe a remnant of childhood evenings at Grandma and Grandpa Knox’s. So, for some strange reason I got up this morning and jumped on my bike without a plan (since Anne says I’m getting fat). 🙂  I pedaled up the Valley Road, past many young and old Cottonwoods, singing and dancing their soft song in the light morning current. I’ll share this haiku in their honor:

restless in soft breeze
song of the cottonwood tree
catching low sun's glow


Sleep Walking

We need new locks on our doors. The kind that are really high up and can’t be unlocked by a child. A child who is sleeping, and walking about the house (and who knows where else).

Imagine my mixture of surprise, fear and anxiety as I’m rushing toward our kitchen Sunday night, right after my wife shakes me awake with a terrified look on her face. “Joe. Someone’s coming in our house!” She heard the door handle shake, and then the deadbolt unlock. As I was stumbling my way to the kitchen in my underwear, I heard the door swing open and someone walk in. “Hello. Who’s there?!” I demanded (it was the only thing I could think of on the spot, OK). As I came around the corner, ready to bust out some ninja skills I was sure were inside me somewhere, I saw my middle daughter looking at me with a blank stare. When I asked what she was doing, she suddenly got angry and stomped off to her bedroom saying “leave me alone!”

Who knows how long she was in the garage. Or what she was doing. The lights were all on, the big door open to the summer night outside, and the door to the van left open. After she stomped off, Mesa came back into the living room confused and wondering what her parents were doing. She said she had to go out to the garage to get a bucket for her feet. (!?) Then she laid down on the couch with me and went right to sleep. She remembered none of it by morning.

Until we get some new locks, I’ll keep propping a chair against both doors so at least we’ll hear her moving them before she takes another midnight vacation. Any tips for newly discovered sleepwalking parents?

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Posted by on July 7, 2009 in funny, poetry, trees


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Ten Days

In the last week or so…

Jenna wore a funny hat.

Mesa and Hope raced their classmates.

The twins hung out in Montrose.


I cooked ribs with the sun.


And made barrels to catch rain (more on this later).


We planted a few trees and flowers.

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We failed a baby robin rescue.


And had a bird funeral.

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Learned how a buck doesn’t break his noggin.


And, ate a flag.


See more pics from our last ten days on Flickr.

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Posted by on May 25, 2009 in etc., Family, farming, trees


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Sitting in the killing field

A verse that came to me today as I was sitting in a small wood, soon to be cleared away and replaced by a construction site (tree hugger alert)…

Stand tall, touch earth and sky,
touch me in my soul.
Clear the way for more progress,
woods become a hole.
About to be dying, in this arbor killing field.
Soon will come, to finish the job,
blades and tractors, war to wield.

All brush now cleared away,
they stand naked, unafraid.
Still and calm, as no wind
even as they sway.
Not waiting, no worry,
for the coming day.

Not proud, no sorrow,
not anything at all.
Just trees that be,
no more, no less.
Until the day they fall.
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Posted by on May 9, 2009 in poetry, trees


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Feeling For Trees

My heart goes out to the Madville Times family for the loss of many neighbors with the gain of a new one (see this). It’s interesting how a person can really feel sorrow for the wise old trees when they are ripped out in the name of human ‘progress.’ At least I can. I shared Corey’s disgust when I first saw the giant heaps of 100+ year old cottonwood trees piled up along Valley Road. I actually stopped in the middle of the road in disappointment and sadness, just looking at the destruction. You can call me a ‘treehugger’ too, I guess. I just really hate seeing them go like that, for such a lousy reason (to gain a couple more acres for farming is a lousy reason, by the way). Thanks, Cory, for summing up why it hurts so much to lose them.

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Posted by on June 23, 2008 in going green, trees


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