|The author in the tree "house", 1993. The author is 5, the tree ~ 90.|
|Days before its demise. 2014.|
|In progress. The far right side of this photo actually is asphalt, though hidden under debris - the tree was only|
What I found, indicated that I needed to do more work. A set of really thin lines occurred in the early 1970's on one trunk and late 1970's on the other. So clearly I couldn't delineate them accurately. What caused those really lean years, I figured initially must have been the construction of the house and the building of the asphalt driveway practically on the tree.
|Something is wrong here! Blow this up to see better.|
So what caused that big set of lean years, now correctly dated as 1976-1982? The house was built in 1982... the driveway a few years later - that certainly didn't cause the lean years as I had initially hypothesized. So what happened?
|Now, a couple hours later, they line up!|
Let's construct the history of the tree. Because the planer broke before I could get to the very center, I actually don't have good resolution the first couple years. The left trunk (father from the driveway), looks to have put down its first ring in ~1900, the other a few years later, ~1904. What was happening in Wrentham at that time? In 1870, Wrentham had 2202 people, 1900 - 2720 and 1910 - only 1748 people. I suspect that loss of populations corresponded with the degradation of farmland, and increased exports of agriculture from the great plains (at least this is what I remember from a New England environmental history course in college). A large dairy farm up the road - Birchwold Farm, now a great conservation area (best place to find black racers around Wrentham) - folded at about the same time.
|Had the tree been paying attention to world events, it might have noticed these (a smattering of things I could think of|
no rhyme or reason to them).
The next big hit the trees took was in the late 1970's - 1980's. At first glance, the cause is obvious: the two trees hit. When this happened, they seem to have put much effort into wood building at the junction - perhaps as a form of competition - as the lines are quite wide at the junction, but get infinitesimally small around the other 3/4 of the trunk. This period is why I didn't get equal counts from the two trees. Even with a hand lens, I couldn't make out the lines accurately on the first area I sanded. In the center of the junction a crack is visible - this is where vascular tissue never grew, I suspect the soft material in the center is old, compacted outer layers of bark which had nowhere to go when the fusion happened around them.
|A branch with some sort of rot - I presume fungal.|
Since that time, the trees had been growing steadily... gaining a tree "house" in 1993 and losing a limb here or there in a storm, possibly pre-weakened branches because of fungal infection or physical injury.
|Two days of this before the fun (the tree rings and research) began.|
While it is a little sad to see an old friend go, it was necessary for safety of the house, cars and inhabitants, useful for heating, and the history was exciting and informative. Next time you see a tree down, check it out - much can be learned from it!