Farmer's Calendar for January 2020

January 1, 2020

The woodstove purrs and spurts, burning through logs from a tree that may have sprouted from an acorn during Lincoln’s presidency. This oak that grew through two centuries of summers warms the house tonight. I knew moving to this 1850s farmhouse meant taking care of a leaky roof and a buckled retaining wall, as well as a pair of trees looming broad and tall beside the driveway. But recently I failed in that stewardship. Sometimes when it rains a lot, Matt Forrester, the aptly named tree surgeon, explained, a tree will absorb so much water that its weight becomes unsustainable and it drops a limb or collapses. And, regretfully, that’s what happened to one of the long-standing oaks: One spring, after torrential rains, the giant closest to the road shed its most gargantuan limb. It raked down power lines, crushed our truck, and blocked the road. Over the following days, a crew extricated the truck and brought down the remaining trunk. We rented a chipper and spent a weekend feeding it branches. Later, over the din of a wood-splitter, we discussed the red oak’s silver lining: Its demise supplied a bonanza of firewood. As I type by its cozy fire, some of the tree’s story keeps growing.

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