Thursday, July 30, 2009

Section of an old apple tree. Photographed by by step-daughter Lisa Ohlweiler on a 4"x5" camera. The apple tree was planted over 100 years ago to feed horses that were pulling out timbered hemlocks in the NY valley where I have a home. The bluestone in the porch comes from the hills behind the home. The wood comes from the forest. The shoe comes from Israel.

Click on the picture for incredible detail.

I have seen bears eating the apples from this tree. I have walked in these woods and have seen some of the huge, solitary, ancient hemlocks that once covered these mountains. It is an act of imagination to think about what these woods in the Catskills once looked, smelled and felt like.

On my last walk up into the mountain, I found a wild bees' nest high up in the crotch of a hemlock tree. There was a cloud of bees high above my head going about their business. There is always something to discover in the woods. One evening my wife and I sat quietly as dusk approached and witnessed the deer coming out of the woods. They sounded trumpet like snorts to each other when they were surprised to happen upon us.

The region timbered hemlocks for one reason: to strip the bark of the tree and use it in the tanning process. There was a tannery in our town, the Phoenix. Horsed pulled wagons of logs out of the valley and over mountains to the Delaware river and to the railroad. Today there are old apple trees, mostly abandoned scattered throughout the valley. You are likely to find deer there in the late summer munching on the drops. And as I discovered one day when I walked underneath a tree, occasionally a bear over your head.