Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Old Juniper Tree And Me ~ Part 2

I posted the first part of the tale of the old Juniper Tree and Me in August, 2016. I will share a few pictures below from that post and then tell the story of the big snowstorm of 2019, of damage done and damage repaired. It's interesting to me how much you can come to care about one particular tree of the many that surround you.


I've always liked this juniper tree, so large and healthy. But like an overgrown hairdo, it needed some trimming. It's too close to the house and branches dragging on the ground are not allowed within 100 ft of structures here for fire safety reasons.

I didn't know how much I could do by myself. I had never tackled a juniper before, but I brought my lopper and started trimming the twigs off the larger thicker branches. 

Looking at the thick, twisted and gnarled trunk of this tree, I believe it must be pretty old. Some California Junipers may be more than 250 years old. And they are the only trees growing on my property, except for a few others planted by people. The latter are not doing well in the drought and may all die before it's over. Several junipers have also died, but most are doing OK.

I loved sitting inside the canopy of this tree, resting. It's a magical world in there, so shady and quiet. With the ground covered by juniper "berries" that are not berries at all, but cones, a favorite autumn food of our local black bears, coyotes, as well as birds, rabbits, ground squirrels and other small animals. 

The junipers were also important to the native peoples of this area, who would eat the berries and use the wood for bows, arrows, and other tools. 

I was thrilled, it went really well. Glenn helped me cut back the thicker branches, but I did a lot myself. This is the end result. The tree thrived for the next three and a half years.

Then, the day after Christmas last year, an epic snowstorm arrived dropping about two feet of wet and heavy snow on the canyon.

The junipers left in their wild state did pretty well, but those that we were mandated to trim back did not. I tromped as far as I could in the heavy snow and took a few pictures. My tree looked bad, its top broken, its branches weighed down by the heavy snow.

I felt a sense of loss, but hoped that most of the tree could be saved in the spring. I hoped that it would thrive again while abiding by laws designed to protect its human caregivers from fires.  

Spring arrived and I asked Mark if he could cut down the injured parts of the tree. He could and this is what's left of the tree now. If left in peace to grow and thrive, I think it has a good foundation. But what a difference from what it once was.


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