|RINGS LARGE IN YOUTH, VERY SMALL IN AGE|
|MUCH OF TRUNK SHATTERED ON IMPACT|
|SAW CUT AT BASE OF TRUNK|
R.I.P.Friday, 8:00 AM. 49 degrees F, wind E, calm to very light. The sky is mostly cloudy but clearing. The barometer is steady at 30.09" and the humidity is 87%. It looks like it will be a decent day. Yesterday I saw a large flock of Canada geese, a V of about 150 birds, flying high and fast. They were heading north, which is a good sign.
The huge old white pine that came down in a brief windstorm on April 29 was finally cut into manageable pieces and taken to the city refuse yard, where much of it will be cut and split for firewood at Dalrymple Park Camp Ground.
I was able to make a more accurate count of the tree rings yesterday, this time at the base of the trunk and with a better saw cut. I counted them twice and came up with ninety both times so that is a pretty accurate estimate of its age, although the outer thirty or so rings were very close together and therefore difficult to count. If I erred it is on the low side and the tree may be 95 or so. The tree was pretty obviously planted when the adjacent house was built, or a few years after.
The tree grew quickly in its youth, the first half of its life, as much as a half inch in diameter each year for the first forty or so years, and thereafter most annual growth was an eighth to sixteenth of an inch or even less. There were a few years here and there of better growth in later years, but not many. Each ring, counted out from the center, represents a year's growth, and since the increase is in diameter the measure of the growth ring has to be doubled to give the increase in girth for each year. In a good year the tree grew an inch or more in diameter. The diameter measured 35" at ground level and 118" in circumference. The average yearly growth in diameter was .39". The tree laying on the ground was almost 90' in length as well as I could estimate, which translates into an average growth in height of one foot per year during its life, and twice that rate when young.
Ninety years is a long life for a tree in a city environment, where road and sewer construction cause root damage, trimming for utility wires is brutal, and there are less than optimal growth conditions; but in nature a white pine may easily live two hundred to three hundred years.
This tree broke off at the roots, which appeared to be brittle and dry-rotted. I could find no obvious injuries, and it was not infected with white pine blister rust. The trunk was not hollow or rotted that I could see, although it cracked internally when it fell. I saw no obvious cankers, or wood rotting fungi fruiting bodies. I think whatever weakened it to the point that it fell in a freak wind storm happened many years ago, probably forty or fifty years ago when the growth slowed dramatically.
All living living things, including ourselves, are the sum total of their existence, and eventually that burden brings them down, and few get to live out their full genetic potential.