|Raoni and pine on a misty morning|
Below my house, on the cliff edge (and probably preventing the cliff from eroding into the sea) is a solid bank of rather funereal pine trees. They obscure what would otherwise be a remarkable view. The land belongs to Cholmondeley Children's Home so I can't deal to the pines as I would like - and anyway it would be far too expensive. But over the last few years, with permission from Cholmondeley, I have had some topped.
It is tricky work. The trees are large and growing on a vertical, clay cliff. All the 'rubbish' has to be removed - lots of mulching. Raoni and his team do a great job. When he is not working as part of his Four Seasons Tree Care business, Raoni trains Greenpeace activists in abseiling techniques - in preparation for protests on high buildings or the sides of large ships (I like this connection).
My aim is to try and encourage the regeneration of native plants on the cliff. Nothing regenerates under the pines but open up the canopy and seedlings are quick to appear. I have planted 15 cabbage trees along the very edge of the cliff. They are deep rooted and will (hopefully) help with erosion control.
The recent removal of another small group of pines (small group not small pines!) resulted in this pile of wood. Yesterday a friend in Governors Bay, who had hired a log splitter to deal to his very large gum logs, came round to address my pile. Five hours and a great deal of noisy hard work later, we had a pile of split wood which will hopefully dry out sufficiently over summer to be stacked and used on the log burner next winter.
There was something both intriguing and disconcerting about watching the splitter in action. I felt a sadness and some guilt about my role in the felling of these trees (mediated by the knowledge that they are pesky commercial imports which do nothing for our indigenous landscape and birds). The logs were still fresh - full of moisture. The wood was so dense and even the power of the splitter struggled with the large knots. On the underside of the dark bark were wonderful reds, creams and oranges. I loved the logs that were full of sticky resin, knowing already how brightly they will burn in winter. My job was to catch the split logs and add them to the stack which, towards the end of the day was looking something like this...