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  • About a quarter’s mile walk from my house is a local pond (more of a small lake) where the town has a public beach and a series of walking trails. The town owned property abuts the backyard woods of a local home owner. The end result was a nice series of intertwined hiking trails and ATV paths. I could take the family dog Zag down and hike a good 2 mile loop. Together he and I would walk past old growth pines, fat maples, big healthy oaks, and even find a few large white birches. Interspersed among the trees and trails are old stone walls, typical of New England—the ones that “make good neighbors”.

    Then one fall day, loggers came in.

    I don’t know the details, but I suspect the home owner was selling a large chunk of the treed acreage and decided to have it logged. (Later, for sale signs would appear).

    The difference between the town property and the logged property was startling. It was like God had scraped the earth with one long fingernail. Most of the bigger pines were gone. The big oaks were gone. The larger, mature maples missing. Stumps more than eighteen inches in diameter sat naked and blank, tree rings exposed like marrow. Many smaller trees were left behind, but I noted some damage to trunks or branches. A crude dirt road was roughed into the earth. I remember standing and looking at the broken trees, the huge tire gouges in ground and just wondering…why? Money, I guessed. Perhaps the home owner had a child to put through college or the family house needed a new roof or it was simple greed. I don’t know and so I won’t judge. Still, I wanted to cry. My beautiful trails….

    Months went by, Fall to Spring and no home developer came in. The roughly hewn road was still there, but new growth was creeping in wherever it could-- ground cover “red berries”, ferns, black berry pricker bushes, wild flowers, and other small shrubs. The Force of Life. I went down one day with Zag and brought a camera with me.

    Zag and I went up one trail (now wide enough for a car) and had just passed the peak when I found a stump. There were many stumps, but this one was different. It had once been a decent sized maple tree, about 10-12 inches in diameter. The main stump was grey and weathered from the winter. This should have been a dead tree.

    It was not. There to one side were many shoots of baby trees, all bright red and eagerly reaching up and out from the lifeless stump of the mother tree. Each young shoot a tree in its own right. Each one ready to be a part of the woods. From the death of one, life too many.

    Two years have passed.

    The property is still available for sale, I think, though the “for sale” signs are down. The logging permits on the crooked tree by dirt road entrance is so faded, I can barely read the dates and names. The dirt road itself is half grown in with shrubs and sapling pines.

    The little maples continue to grow. They put the past behind, dig deep down into the earth and reach up high to the sun. From destruction to hope. New life from old roots.
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