Saturday, August 25, 2012

Eastern Hemlock

Let us spend one day deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry - determined to make a day of it. Why should we knock under and go with the stream? Let us not be upset and overwhelmed in that terrible rapid and whirlpool called dinner, situated in the meridian shallows. Weather this danger and you are safe, for the rest of the way is down hill. With unrelaxed nerves, with morning vigor, sail by it, looking another way, tied to the mast like Ulysses. If the engine whistles, let it whistle till it is hoarse for its pains. If the bell rings, why should we run? We will consider what kind of music they are like. Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through Church and State, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin, having a point d'appui, below freshet and frost and fire, a place where you might found a wall or a state, or set a lamp-post safely, or perhaps a gauge, not a Nilometer, but a Realometer, that future ages might know how deep a freshet or shams and appearances had gathered from time to time. If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimeter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business. ~ Henry David Thoreau (Walden)

Eastern Hemlock is a medium sized evergreen tree with slightly dropping crown leader. It generally grows 60-70' in height, and 1.5-3' in diameter, though many older specimens reach heights of 100'-150' with a diameter of 5'. The oldest recorded specimen was 554 years old, and tallest recorded specimen 173'. It inhabits the Appalachian mountains from northern Georgia north into Maine, and west into Canada surrounding the Great Lakes area. It can be found on moist slopes, in rocky areas, as well as narrow stream valleys, at elevations 0-5,900ft.  Its needles are 1/4"-1/2" long, dark green in color above, and white lined beneath. They form flat in cross section, arranged in two rows. Its cones are 1/2"-3/4" long, brown, ovoid, with round scales, hanging from the end of twigs. The invasive Asian insect pest, the hemlock woolly adelgid, infest these trees, killing them off in just a few years, threatening its population.

Eastern Hemlock can be seen on right

Ragged Wood by Fleet Foxes