Sunday, March 08, 2009

My Own Private Hemlock

My wife's dad dug up three hemlock trees along the North Mills River in the Pisgah National Forest some decades ago. He took them home where he planted them in his back yard, hoping to keep a little bit of the mountains close to home where he could look out his window and see them and, some day, walk beneath their branches. Frank's been gone since 1990, but the hemlocks are still there. One of the trio died, but the other two did extremely well in the moist, but well drained soil of his yard. Both trees are approaching fifty feet in height these days.

Ironically, they were very lucky to have been dug up as saplings and transported to Mecklenburg County by Mr. Henderson. If you go to North Mills River these days, all of the hemlock trees are dead. They all became victims of the sap-sucking little whores, the Hemlock wooly adelgid. So these could very well be the only hemlocks remaining on Earth who originated along that particular river.

I enjoy these trees. One thing about hemlocks is that they form a natural shelter. The limbs droop down and if you enter their reach, you can stand beside the trunk of the tree and find yourself in a kind of room. Above you and around you will be the sheltering green needles of the hemlock tree.

Alas, this is now a rarity here in the eastern USA. But I can still enjoy the experience beneath the pair of hemlock trees, saved from oblivion by an enterprising young man more than four decades ago.

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