Earth’s Spine

A little story of trees. Tall, old trees.

Running up that Hill with Dogs

The two main types of trees in the Laguna Mountains are oak and pine. I came to know the oak trees most intimately through my wood-stove where I burned something we all called White Oak, the hardest, hottest and longest burning, and California Black Oak which was a beautiful red inside. The long drought in Southern California had made life good for the bark beetle. They had been fruitful and multiplied all through the oak forests, a process I witnessed close hand as even the big oaks in my own yard gave up and died. The proscription against moving diseased wood out of the ecosystem meant this beetle-killed wood was often what we burned.

The other tree was the Jeffrey Pine, a beautiful being who can grow to be hundreds of feet and can live for several centuries. Similar — and related — to the Ponderosa Pine, its needles are…

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