The property to our east was sold last year and the current (absentee) owner is having its woods logged. We took a clandestine walk, over the weekend when the loggers were not there, to survey the damage. The first image shows one of the many telltale chunks which result from a scarf or notch which is first cut into the tree to be felled. The second two images show the exposed pattern of annual rings. I believe we all know that, in addition to growing up, trees grow out. It is an understanding of this latter pattern with which we concern ourselves when contemplating the nature of annual rings. Imagine a cross-section of a mature tree. Lateral growth occurs along a thin ring of tissue which surrounds this section fairly close to its outer edge. This ring is called the vascular cambium. Phloem, a second important tissue, is responsible for nutrient transport and accumulates to the outside of the cambium (and just below the bark). Xylem is responsible for water transport and accumulates (in large rings) to the inside of the vascular cambium. It is the xylem which comprises the bulk of the wood harvested from a mature tree. The wide bands, in the third image especially, are comprised of (rapidly growing) spring wood while the narrow bands are made of (more slowly growing) summer wood. Taken together, right (wide ring) to left (narrow ring), toward the center of the tree, each pair of rings represents an annual increment of growth. We understand, in an intellectual sense, that woods should be managed and that trees may be harvested. We are especially aware of the second of these maxims because we heat our home, exclusively, with wood. In an emotional sense however we lament the loss of even a single one.

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