Do you have a favorite spot in the woods that you like to get away to and reconnect with nature? Somewhere that you’ve camped with your family or just a quiet place to escape the everyday bustle. The familiarity of that kind of place has a timeless quality about it. That is part of what makes it happy and comforting. We want it to always be there and never change.
As a forester, I work with a changing forest every day. Some changes come quickly like a timber harvest. Some come violently as with a wildfire. Mostly, change comes slowly. The different seasons transform the forest each year. This brings about my favorite yearly change, the Spring burst of growth. The fruits of my labor are on full display, as tree buds elongate and spring forth new needles. Each year the trees that we planted are a little bigger than before.
This photo was taken of my old buddy, Hunter, in 2002. In the background was a newly planted forest. The trees were harvested from the area directly behind him in 2000 and the seedlings were planted in 2001. If you look closely, you can see the small pine trees growing. Lassen Peak is just visible on the horizon in front of Hunter.
Jump ahead to 2014 and Blitz sits on the same stump. The trees we planted have now grown for twelve seasons. Many of them are over twenty feet tall. The view of Lassen Peak is gone. Blitz was barely able to sit on Hunter’s stump because decay caused it to crumble under her. The yearly change may seem small, but when viewed over a decade, it’s dramatic. Expecting the forest not to change is like expecting your child not to grow up. Forests are dynamic and never static. Our memories and old photographs may not change, but our forests always will.