I have treated flat headed wood borers for over 30 years. Bronze Birch Borer and Two Lined Chestnut Borers are in the same family as Emerald Ash Borer and are totally controllable. There are several options for trunk injection that will not only kill every borer feeding on the trees but prevent re-infestation for two years. Usually a preventative maintenance program is far cheaper than removing your trees.
If I were in charge, I would have ordered the leaves on the trees to unfold last week. Today the account of stored energy would have been bankrupt and the firewood account full. Winter has returned with a vengeance, locking up all of the liquids and freezing all accounts. Thankfully, I am not in charge.
Just behind and around the winter buds of trees, much of last year’s accumulation of carbohydrate is stored in the form of starch. The bankers in charge of this savings account are light sensitive pigments. Only when the nights are short and warm do they allow the conversion of the starchy savings to sugar. When this sugar enters the sap solution, the osmotic gradient is changed causing water to rush towards the buds, literally blasting them out of their embryonic sleep. Thus begins an avalanche of reactions that eventually bring us the foliage of summer.
Trees are wondrous creatures that are only recently becoming understood. Their ability to grow a new layer over their entirety is not only their nature but also a necessity. They absolutely have to grow this new tree around themselves or die. For a tree only lives for a year. Tree bankers must be very careful with the available starch on hand.
Phenology, or the advent of spring has been progressing right along. Moaning, groaning lake ice beckoned the geese almost a month ago. Sand hill cranes have begun their season of song and dance and a kingfisher has scolded the yellow eyes and buffleheads for over two weeks near the end of the pier. Last week’s temperatures in the seventies brought out T-shirts, motorcycles, a couple of daffodils and the muskies up the Wingra creek. Yet the investors in leaves have held fast, aware that the average snowfall in April is three inches.
Another average, April 15th, is the start-up date for local landscapers. The frost is out of the ground and this is the time that the soil is usually dried enough to work. But conservative banking within the world of trees holds back until the first of May to risk an investment gained throughout last year’s growing season.
This will be a year when spring will explode into summer. The orderly, slow progression of events has been held in check by the abnormally cool temperatures. The stage is set and all of the actors in place. Remember this wintry, snowy day because in a week it will seem as if this day was a dream. In a couple of weeks, the tree banker’s will be wildly spending their reserves, throwing their caution to the warm winds of May.
I see the blue sky and breathe its precious air. Birds, clouds, rain and thunder mar her purity like wrinkles in our grandmothers’ face.
I see the trees, the backbone of the landscape, living in communion, within a community of life. Wind dance and advancing seasons make every moment unique.
I see the prairies gently waving, dancing within the breath of God, marking the seasons with flowers and fire.
I see all of the living things that we can perceive in intimate interrelationship with each other, a web of life, pulsing, moving, and never the same.
I see a universe, the nest from which we came, an outward scattering of a billion galaxies with a billion stars all like our own sun, each with an ongoing story to tell that began with the creation so very long ago.
I see all of our children, infused with the beauty and grace of god, faces so full of pure love.
I see that God is love, the only hope for peace and harmony.
I see you walking in beauty all around.
Can you see me?
Dragons and pirate ships raced across the sky, their billowy white in contrast with the purest of blue on this glorious October afternoon. The morning had been spent with Mighty Mouse and Popeye the sailor until four-year-old Tim was chased out of the house by his mother. “It’s way too nice a day out to spend it indoors,” she admonished, so Ginger, the cocker escorted the young boy out to the big leaf pile out front.
Mazomanie was a much smaller town then. Ginger kept Tim out of the street even though the traffic was of little concern. There was no burning ordinance so giant piles of leaves grew along the edges of the lawn in this season of pumpkins and brilliantly colored maples. Giant black clouds of shrieking blackbirds roosted in the cottonwoods along the stream out back. Mothers warning to “stay away from that crick” contradicted their allure! Life was so purely good for this young man and his guardian spaniel. What better thing could there be to life than lying in the fresh smelling leaves and watching the clouds change shapes, chasing each other across the autumn sky? What little Tim didn’t realize was that he was to fall in love for the first of many times on this glorious afternoon.
As the sun peaked out from behind a most fearsome dragon, its’ first elusive rays sparkled on a particularly stubborn leaf, high in the crown of the front yard maple. The sparkling reflection was more beautiful than the diamond on his mother’s hand. This captivating gaze was jolted with a breath of wind, plucking the leaf, which floated back and forth, spiraling downward into his young hand. This leaf, mostly yellow seemed to be spattered with blood in an intricate pattern; more beautiful than anything this small boy had ever seen. The intricate system of veination added an almost human quality to this woody being in the front yard. This fine fall day was one that Tim would never forget. It was the day he fell in love with the trees.
A young man is fortunate to be taught about the outdoors and Tim had two mentors, both his father and his grandpa. Hunting and fishing were the sports this small town family enjoyed so many were the days of walking through the big Mazomanie marsh in the bottomlands of the Wisconsin River or over the hills of their family farm in Dunlop Hollow. These days were spent studying relationships between the plants and animals encountered on the way. It was grandpa Pete who gave the first lessons of woodland ethic to Tim. “Life wasn’t given to us to be wasted, either plant or animal. If you harvest a living thing, it should be used. Never kill just for killings sake,” the old man instructed. In the fall, Pete would collect the walnuts that clattered down the tin roof of the machine shed and planted them at the farm. His hands would remain black until Thanks giving. He also made sure that both his daughters received a jar of the nutmeats in hopes that this would yield a batch of chocolate chip cookies with the walnut meats baked in. His simple acts were to eventually result in a mighty walnut forest at the farm. Tim continued to spend a lot of time in the outdoors, camping and hiking in the many wilderness areas across the globe. Early memories were etched into the growing young man so much that Pete attained a form of immortality as these teachings were carried on in his grandson long after his days were over. Other lessons of carpentry deeply steeped in work ethic carried on into Tim’s future in the years after High-School graduation.
One memorable October afternoon, a 22 year-old Tim sat atop a tall concrete form waiting for the crane to swing another bucket of wet cement into the young mans guiding hands. Clouds chased each other across the autumn sky over what once was some of the best rabbit hunting land that Tim and his beagle had ever known. Another shopping mall was to be the permanent legacy of this bit of the earth and all was not well in the mind of this young man. “There must be something better for me than partaking in this awful process,” he thought to himself as the sun set through the yellow smoke that belched forth from the heating plant to the west. He quit his job and went back to school the following semester vowing to make the world a better place.
Five years later he actually did it! Tim had graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Horticulture. Now he could go into the business of making the world a better place. Cleaning up after the building process and turning the ravaged land into beautiful garden settings sure did beat pouring concrete. A deeply ingrained work ethic helped the business grow into a very large concern where many messes were cleaned up and put into order. Nature however was order with diversity and the manicured lawns seemed to be devoid of the natural processes he had grown to love. . Besides, who was really running the show? The developers and bankers really were the bosses in this cancerous process of urban sprawl. These bosses had but one incentive it seemed, money. Tim soon realized he was but a pawn in the hands of money hungry land destroyers and had become just as much a part of this sprawl process as any of the other players. Bluegrass sod and potentillas were no more than lipstick on the corpse. So Tim became dissatisfied once again.
Change has a way of flowing through our lives like a river. New experiences and opportunities lie around every bend. How could Tim make the world he loved a better place. Protecting and restoring the natural world that he was taught to love seemed to be his purpose. At least it felt good to enlighten another human being with introductions to the natural processes that Pete had shown him now long ago. The business was sold and a new life begun at Edgewood College. Not only was he able to nurture and restore a beautiful and historic campus on the shores of glistening lake Wingra, but also he could introduce the natural world and the environment to legions of students. By turning these students towards the green, Tim was able to make much more of a difference to the natural world than he was ever able to do with a shovel and 27 trucks. Perhaps this will be his calling. At least there seems to be direction in this stretch of river for a long way downstream.