A View Into the Woods Renewing

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

The view out of my darkened office window on June 6, 2010.

Foxgloves in the Woods

Foxgloves in the Woods 2

These views might be unremarkable except for what happened here not so long ago…


This is what it looked like after they cut down the trees and ran over and turned their heavy equipment around on a fern covered forest floor immediately behind our house in January, 2009.


 For more about what happened, read my post:  Toad Lake Logging: Is 80% enough for them?  

I don’t see this kind of logging any differently than I see what is going on in the Gulf of Mexico at the hands of BP and its cronies. What my neighbor’s trustee did to the woods here was only different in scale. It is kind that they have not objected to our cleaning up the mess and encouraging some wildflowers and replanting uprooted ferns to grow where they left carnage, but the woodcutters have not returned to plant trees or to remove the piles of detritus.  It was pretty clear that they would not do that work, even though the state permit requires it. They took the wood and left the debris.  There is no enforcement of rules about cleaning up after the logging process.

With their heavy equipment and giant chain saws they destroyed the gentle slope of the meadow where cattle once grazed and girls rode horses.  The path where joggers ran around the west side of the lake is gone.  They have moved on to pillage elsewhere.

Blackberries have now grown over some of the massive heap of sticks and branches they left behind, and I can only see it from the second story deck, but eventually the brambles will engulf it in berries.  It’s just about to flower and there will be lots of blackberry jams and syrups made this summer.

Foxgloves in the Woods 3




Toad Lake Logging: Is 80% enough for them?

The pictures here are often not of the best quality because they were taken under difficult, overcast skies, and as fog was just lifting.  They are meant to chronicle what happens when logging comes to the land next door here in Washington State.

The family who did this have a little old granny who lives in the farm house in the large cleared fields at the bottom of the first picture.   She and her husband used to graze cattle on both the little meadow near my house and in the large fields.  He would cut a tree once in a while to pay his taxes, but just a selected tree or two, never a wholesale logging operation.   Then he died.  Cue the lawyers, the trust and the relatives.  The family, save the little granny, who is quite a good hugger, don’t live here on the mountain, they live in town.  I’m sure that they will make plenty of money from what they have done.  As if that is all that matters.

Toad Lake on Squalicum Mountain

This is Toad Lake on Toad Mountain.  We are outside the city limits of Bellingham, Washington.  If you look carefully, you can see a tiny meadow at what would be 7:00 if the lake were a clock.  I live just to the left of the meadow, about 100 yards from the bottom of the lake.  This picture was taken about seven or eight months ago by my neighbor from a small airplane.

The Meadow Now

This is what the meadow looks like now, after a few weeks of a logging operation.  All of  the forest below the lake is owned by the family trust that now, through its lawyer, manages that property.  With a permit, the laws in Washington State allow for them to log 80% of the logs, and they got pretty close to doing so.

 Our House in September 2008

As you can see, the forest was dense behind our house this past September when Dan was staining the decks and the fascia boards.  I loved it just like this.

Trees Gone Heart Broken

These are the trees left just behind my house.  The wire fence is the property line.  We will be putting up a fence now to screen the view of the deforestation they have left behind.

 Logging 4This is a view of what is left after they cut down so many trees.  The next view is what it looked like this Spring when we planted a Dogwood in what was our shade garden.  We aren’t sure that our investment in shade plants will do well here anymore.  It’s not exactly dappled light anymore, is it!

Dogwood Another view

Here’s another view of what they cut down.

Log piles

Here are some of the log piles they built while hauling logs from down the mountain up to the staging area they made of the former meadow.  Did I mention that cattle grazed on this little meadow for decades?  That’s why there was a barbed wire fence, to keep them safe and contained.  I watched the tracks on this logging equipment grind up a beautiful group of ferns that I had watched grow for the past four years.  Just ground them into the ground leaving giant gouges as it turned to grab the trees and haul them out where they were delimbed and turned into logs.

Logging truck

This logging truck has returned and hauled out more than twenty loads as large as this and runs by our yard each time it does so.  It’s caused me to be a good bit gloomy lately.

Abandoned limbsThis is the detritus in its earliest state after a logging operation.  I am sure detritus is not the word that the loggers would use, but this is dead organic matter mixed with the humus that has been dredged up by their heavy equipment and it will take one hell of a long time for it to compost unattended.  I am watching to see what they will do with this material.

I really don’t know what they will do, I have never been this close before, but it concerns me that they may have made a lot of kindling that they are now going to leave laying about.  I am thinking this 80% permit was the Washington State legislature’s answer to the ban on clear cutting.  Great, it really looks so healthy to rape the land in this way.  This is what property rights can buy you in the US.  You can do whatever the hell you want and the consequences are meaningless under the law.

Bye Bye Now

From Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass

Along the northern coast,

Just back from the rock-bound shore, and the caves,

In the saline air from the sea, in the Mendocino country,

With the surge for bass and accompaniment low and hoarse,

With crackling blows of axes, sounding musically, driven by strong arms,

Riven deep by the sharp tongues of the axes—there in the Redwood forest dense,I heard the mighty tree its death-chant chanting.

The choppers heard not—the camp shanties echoed not;The quick-ear’d teamsters, and chain and jack-screw men, heard not,

As the wood-spirits came from their haunts of a thousand years, to join the refrain;

But in my soul I plainly heard.

Murmuring out of its myriad leaves,

Down from its lofty top, rising two hundred feet high,

Out of its stalwart trunk and limbs—out of its foot-thick bark,That chant of the seasons and time—chant, not of the past only, but the future.