Summer days and nights in Mendocino can be as cold or colder than winter days and nights here, so we heat our house year-round with a highly efficient woodstove. We buy tan oak firewood from Frank’s Firewood in Boonville and harvest soft wood from our acre and a half of forest. All the trees we’ve had cut down on our property in the eight years we’ve been here were trees posing a threat to our house or our neighbors’ houses or the road that parallels the west side of our property and leads to the six other houses down the lane.
Bull pines are often the kind of tree we need to bring down. They tend to grow fast and tall, develop some sort of internal rot, die, and eventually break apart or fall over. A few years ago we had an enormous 170-feet-tall dead bull pine felled, much to the relief of several neighbors who were feeling threatened by the tree. That behemoth and one lesser pine have provided wood for our stove for three years and counting.
A few days ago our neighbor Defer, who is eighty, came over and felled a 130-foot bull pine that was soon to die and eventually topple over and block the aforementioned road. Defer has been a professional tree feller for fifty-nine years and only stopped felling big trees for a local lumber company a year ago.
We considered waiting for the pandemic to end before asking Defer to fell the bull pine, but because we’ll need the wood long before the pandemic ends, we decided to go ahead with the felling.
Defer’s intention was to fell the tree so it landed a hundred feet from our house, but the tree defied Defer’s expertise and scared the bejesus out of me as I watched the giant come down just twenty feet from where I was standing on the north porch of our house.
When the big tree crashed down on the earth, I was jarred out of an emotional freeze I’ve been in since the pandemic took hold and we began our sheltering in place. The weather and temperature and seasons and tides and deer and mosquitoes and apple blossoms and honeybees and bull pines care not a whit about the dang virus. Life goes on.
Defer bucked up the pine into sixteen-inch lengths and I will now slowly but surely split those rounds and stack the wood near the woodshed to hasten the drying so we’ll have a good supply of seasoned soft wood for the coming winter.