Speaking of Gravel Creek Property history, I was walking by one of the trees that Sandy cut down a few months back and took this picture. The growth rings are clearly visible, and give some dendrochronological verification of the history of the property we’ve been told. Counting rings, this tree sprouted from a seed in 1962. It grew at a moderate pace for its first five or six years, probably due to youthful vigor or because a tree had fallen down above it, leaving a sunlight hole. Then the hole above it closed and the forest darkened, times got tougher, and it grew much more slowly, as you can see from the really tightly spaced rings. But when it was 20 years old, something happened and it took off on a wild growth spurt lasting a few decades. That would have been 1982- the year before the property’s previous owner bought it… the year it was clearcut! That means this tree was left behind, not cut because it was only 3 or 4 inches in diameter at the time, and suddenly had access to all the water and sunlight it could ever want.
It’s a little sad to me that this guy survived that major event to finally succumb to the chainsaw in 2014, so we can have adequate sunlight on our house. But I can rest easier knowing that we are going to take much better care of the land than the clearcutting timber company, and all of its brothers and sisters will live good lives and get to be very big trees indeed (if we have anything to say about it).
Below is a picture the seller sent us that he took in 1983 when he bought the property. You can’t even see this view now, because of the way the trees have grown up. It’s from atop the hills to the east of the property, looking out over the Gravel Creek valley towards the highway (which you can’t see, it’s behind the farthest trees). Gravel Creek itself can be just barely seen on the left, and the low green area of the valley is where the vegetables are going to be planted once we get done with the house. The evergreen in the center is still on the property, it’s now a huge tree down by the bridge. About an inch in from the right is “four hemlock stump” before it had four hemlocks growing out if it; it’s still there at the edge of the upper garden today. And if you look just to the left of that, you’ll see an evergreen about 20 feet high: the same tree that’s in the first photo, three decades later.