Nightly Forest Report

This post originally appeared on my other blog, Deep in the Heart of Textiles, in May of 2014.  When I started this blog about nature, I thought it fit better here.  I have made a few changes.

I live in a rural area on a tree farm.  Loblolly pines grow naturally here, and in the woods surrounding our house are pines and hardwood trees of mixed ages, from six-inch tall seedlings to 60-foot tall trees.  About every 15 years some of the larger ones are harvested.  The trunks become utility poles and lumber for framing houses, the bark becomes bark mulch, and the scraps become heating pellets and paper.

When conditions are right, the pines grow to 12 or 15 feet tall within five years.  During the cooler months, I work outside among the trees, taking down any sick ones, removing vines that can choke them, and battling invasive species like Chinese tallow trees.  Since humans have learned to prevent forest fires, some brushy native plants have expanded exponentially and need to be removed by hand too.  My little crew of 3 sheep and a goat go out with me and eat a lot of the brush too.  We can never keep up with the growth, so there are still plenty of food plants and habitat left all around the patches we thin.  The dogs come along and guard us from tiny tree frogs and lizards.

I really enjoy the work, and it gives me lots of time to think about my little world and how it compares to the larger one.  There is just as much strife, maneuvering, and excitement here — just on a smaller, much slower scale.  So —

report sign

—Welcome to the Nightly Forest Report, covering Timber from Top to Taproot.

In our top story tonight, the firm of Tallow Tree, Hydrilla, and Water Hyacinth LLC has denied allegations that it has any intent to “invade the US and displace native species.” Representatives point out that all three species were invited to this country on the basis of their beauty and purported usefulness, and say that their extreme adaptability should be seen as a strength, not a flaw.  “Some people are still purposely planting our showcase species.  They have literally NO natural enemies in this country,” stated CEO Dexter Hydrilla.  “I think that is an exceptional accomplishment, worthy of recognition, not of repression.”

tallow tree

Could this simple Chinese tallow tree release poison through its roots to kill other trees? Stay tuned for further developments…

In other business, Wild Grape International seems poised for a hostile takeover of Greater Loblolly Pine Corporation.

grape vine

A wild grape vine stretches across and targets a loblolly pine tree.

grape leaves

The grape leaves cloak the entire tree, weighing it down.

However, observers have noted that internal disruption in high levels is threatening to dissolve Wild Grape, causing investors to question its viability.  It looks like Loblolly may survive this takeover attempt.

skeletonized leaves

Some departments at Wild Grape have been reduced to bare bones.  So to speak.

In governmental agency news, Poison Ivy Unlimited (PIU) has asked the USDA to rescind the well-known “Leaves of Three” restriction, which has been in effect since the Year One.  “Leaves of three, let it be,” chanted spokesperson Dr. Ivy Green-Redd, rolling her eyes.  “Everyone recites this little ditty, but we believe that now in the 21st century, we should be allowed to add as many leaves as we like to our growth pattern.”

poison ivy

The company would also like to revamp the “mitten” look of its outside leaves.

PIU claims that Virginia Creeper Corporation, with its five leaves allowance, has an unfair advantage both in its native environment and in its public relations campaigns.

Virginia creeper

Virginia Creeper places far ahead of Poison Ivy in any “My favorite vine” competition.

“Ask anyone,” stated Green-Redd, “what word normally follows ‘Poison Ivy’ and people respond with either ‘removal’ or ‘medicine.’  If you ask the same question about ‘Virginia Creeper,’ the most common response is ‘Trail.’  At this point, who wants to go down the Poison Ivy Trail?  No one.  We believe that customers will enjoy designing their own versions of our plant products, by adding leaves to our basic triumvirate.  And who minds a little itch when you’re out enjoying nature? ”

In a related story, Native Yaupon Holly Corporation has decided to drop its decades-old slogan, “God’s Green Gasoline,” for a more modern motto.


Yaupon Holly

The new slogan, “Yaupon – Ultimately Successful (in Spite of All Your Efforts),” was unrolled in an ad campaign this week.  Other slogans that were briefly considered included “Spontaneous Combustion is our Specialty” and “Go Ahead and Sleep – We’ll Be Out Here Growing.”

When asked if the corporation had considered using their Latin name, which would of course have name-recognition the world over, spokesperson Buddy “Holly” Hoople winced, said that “Ilex vomitoria” does not satisfactorily capture Yaupon’s many facets, and asked, “Have you noticed we look Christmas-y practically year-round?”

Hoople also stressed Yaupon’s native origins, and said he saw no reason it should not be allowed to spread at will.   “We’re a feisty little group,” he said.  “You can chop us down but we’ll spring back from the roots.  You can’t break us cause we’ll just bend and snap back into place.  We spread by berry, branch, and root.  Why not just give up on all those more delicate oaks and elms and let us take over?  It’ll be easier on everyone.”

When reminded that Yaupon produces only twisted spindly stunted stems, unfit for most any purpose, Hoople quickly brought the press conference to a close.

Leaving business news and turning to sports — in aerial gymnastics, the Swallowtail Kites continue to outperform and out-maneuver the Red-shouldered Hawks, with the Turkey Vultures coming in a distant third.

swallow-tailed kite

Swallow-tailed Kites – the gold medalists of raptor acrobatics.

In art news, a member of the Grrr-illa Spiders has created an installation called simply “Web.”  The anonymous artist has made no statement as to the intended meaning behind her work, but this reviewer feels that it serves to remind us all how interconnected we are, and yet, how fragile are the lines that connect us.


The installation will remain in place until rain and wind shred it.

That wraps up our report for tonight.  This portion of the news has been brought to you by the Southern Dewberry Council, who reminds you that there is no better way to honor Mom than by climbing around in May’s humid heat, in snake-infested thorny brambles, to harvest a few handfuls of super-tart berries for that traditional Mother’s Day Dewberry Cobbler.


Dewberries – Worth the Scratches!

And as always, we thank the contributors at Southern Board, Chip, and BarkMulch – who supply you with 16,000 board-feet of yellow pine per acre, every 15 years, on only 47 inches of rain per year.