Jack’s Walk

Sunshine! ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s a bright sunny day around here, but the weather remains cold, -7º C which feels like -12º C. I don’t mind the cold as much when it’s sunny, but I do mind all the ice that’s sticking around. We’ve had 2 ice storms in the past 2 weeks with snow in-between. We were supposed to have a few days of warming last week, but we really only had about 1/2 day of above zero temps and all that did was weld all those layers together to make thick sheets of ice that coat the roads and sidewalks. My city has done a poor job this year of clearing ice and snow and our side streets are coated with a 5 – 10 cm. thick layer of ice with deep potholes and grooves where the slush of car tracks froze quickly. They’ve been like this for over a week and the city is doing nothing about it. Driving down these streets is perilous and could easily ruin a car. As for the sidewalks, they are full of thick, slick ice that makes you fall down and go boom. I have cleats for my boots, but they’re difficult to manage because you need to high-step and stomp your feet with every step which is not easy for an old gal like me.

Our river path is also too slick for walking so Jack and I decided to visit our little forest path in the country to check out the conditions and we got lucky. There was packed snow, but ice in only a few places that we could go around. Also, the path has been roughed up by the dozens of people who walk their dogs there and all in all we had a pleasant walk. Best of all we found only minor damage to the trees from the 2 recent ice storms with just a few small downed branches. All of the big grandmother trees fared well. Hooray! I guess this is where Jack and I will be walking for the next little while because ice, ice baby turns out to be dangerous.

Bonsai Tree – More leaves

As I predicted, nothing very much happened for about a month. The only visible change was that the leaves got more and more dark green and opaque, as the tree ramped up its chlorophylls supply. And the stem got a stiff wooden core and thickened again, gaining back the volume it originally had when it was all bloated with water. Subtle changes, they only could be observed up close and if you knew what to look for, but they are vital for the tree.

Last weekend the tree started to grow again and during this week it sprouted a new leaf and at the end of it there already is budding of another one. What will happen next is that the tree will sprout one long(ish) shoot upwards and one long(ish) root downwards. This first year I will leave it grow more or less uninterrupted to get a strong sapling. However the seed was fairly big, and the tree already is nearly as big as some of my current bonsai trees and I expect it in first year grow at least a few decimeters in height.

The growth rate and pattern will later on decide on what kind of bonsai it will be, but it seems that about 50-80 cm height in Chokkan  or Hokidachi style will be about right for this species. I have no experience with persimmons (and I choose to not look it up), but plenty with other species. So far it does not look like it would be suitable for the more “dramatic” styles – its growth pattern this first month is very similar to that of sycamore maples and the leaves are fairly big too. The distance between the nodes is very short, and if it stays so, that would be excellent.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Harakka in Autumn: Chapter 8

It’s another beautiful day on Harakka so let’s join Ice Swimmer on his walk around the island.

Chapter 8 – Ponds on the Rocks on Sunday (2)

Wind Power in HDR ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

A HDR photo is generated using multiple photos with different settings from the same view. It is suited for stationary objects. Or when you want to play with things. [Read more…]

Jack’s Walk

A white quilt. ©voyager, all rights reserved

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Tree Tuesday


This week we continue looking at the oldest and biggest tress in the world, but instead of looking up we’re going underground to have a look at a root system. A clonal root system, to be exact. You’ve seen Old Tjikko, the oldest living clonal tree in the world, but old Mr. T is not the oldest living clonal system in the world. That honour belongs to Pando The Trembling Giant, a colony of Quaking Aspen trees in Fishlake National Park in Utah.

Pando is an ancient clonal root system and although the individual trees live for about 130 years the root organism itself is estimated to be 80,000 years old. Pando was alive when early humans were first migrating out of Africa and it would be about 65,000 years before human eyes even reached the Americas to see Pando.

Pando is more than a group of trees that have withstood the test of time. Pando is actually just one tree; all the aspens of Fishlake National Forest are part of the same organism…  Genetic testing has helped confirm that each tree in the forest is the same organism reproduced over and over again with only slight genetic variations.

Instead of spreading seeds, the clonal grove extends its roots in a process called “suckering.” New “trees” shoot up alongside the old ones, looking like new seedlings — but they actually belong to Pando’s extensive root system, which is why the different trees present nearly identical appearances. They’re essentially clones of the existing foliage.

Scientists believe that every tree in the Pando colony shares the same root system. The result is one of the largest and oldest living organisms on earth and a remarkably resilient forest. Pando’s deep, connected roots have allowed it to survive millennia of fires, droughts, climate shifts, and diseases.

Pando is big, too. It covers 107 acres and weighs in at an estimated 6,615 tons which makes it the worlds heaviest living organism. By comparison, a blue Whale is a lightweight at only about 200 tons. Pando is currently threatened by over-grazing of deer and elk, but a conservation project has been implemented and fences seem to be successfully working.

So there you have it. I think we can safely say that Pando is definitely the oldest and the biggest tree in the world.

Check out the full article and a few more photos at All That’s Interesting.




Jack’s Walk

Mammoth tusks? ©voyager, all rights reserved

Our polar exploration has finally found success. This morning the normally low-key Jack Brown returned to camp in a state of total excitement. His face and beard were full of frost and his cheeks were pale with cold, but he was highly animated and his words came out in a breathless flurry. “North, near, big” were all that we could make out at first, but as Jack began to warm-up in the relative comfort of our hut his tale took on more sense. North of camp and a mile or so past the temporary weather station that we’d cobbled together, Jack had sighted what appeared to be 2 large tusks almost completely free of ice and above the snow line. The news quickly generated much excitement and in a matter of minutes the ennui that has plagued this mission had lifted totally and a happy buzz of commotion took over. Maps suddenly found their way to our makeshift table and everyone began to ready themselves for the march out to Jack’s discovery. Scientific instruments of all sorts were located, checked and packed on our smallest sledge. There was a small area of deep sastrugi between our camp and the site and I thought that the small sledge would best traverse the accursed peaks and dips. The day was dull, but thankfully polar night is still ahead of us and Jack’s tracks made navigation to the site easy. Within an hour the team was ready to go and we set out into the day full of happy anticipation. It was a short march and within 3 hours we could see the tusks from the eastern cliffs. When the tusks were first sighted Ned Barkley let out a whoop of excitement and the entire team became re-energized. A few hours of difficult descent later and we were all standing gaping in awe at Jack’s find. The tusks are massive and confirm my hypothesis that woolly mammoths did indeed migrate this far north. The head of the beast is partially exposed and should not be difficult to excavate. I ordered that a temporary camp be erected and sent Jason Digger and Ned back to our permanent camp with orders to pack up as much equipment and food as possible and relocate it to this new site. The hut and a supply of food will be left behind for our return journey, but the ponies are to be used to drag the sledges as far as possible and are then to be slaughtered and butchered. The men will then don the harnesses and drag the sledges the rest of the way. The find is so exhilarating that the entire team seems barely aware of the deep exhaustion that will set in soon. I have already begun taking measurements and am quite excited to begin the process of documenting this find for the Royal Society.

(With a nod to Sir Ernest Shackleton, the greatest polar explorer of all time.)

Tree Tuesday

Last week we looked at the oldest living clonal tree Old Tjikko in Sweden. This week we’re featuring the world’s oldest living individual tree, a 4,850 year old Bristlecone pine in California named Methuselah.

Named, obviously, after the Biblical figure that lived for 969 years, the Methuselah Tree grows in the Methuselah Grove, which is in Inyo National Forest’s “Forest of Ancients,” where it is surrounded by other ancient trees. The exact location of the tree, though, is kept secret to protect it against vandalism.

Methuselah has an estimated germination date of 2832 BCE, making it older than the pyramids of Egypt. The tree doesn’t exactly live under ideal conditions either. Bristlecone Pines live at high elevation with minimal soil and harsh winds, but they are perfectly suited for survival in this unwelcoming environment. Photos of the Methuselah Pine are not published and its location is kept a closely guarded secret due to concerns about possible damage by humans. The photo above is of a 3,500 year old specimen, just a youngster by comparison. There was an even older Bristlecone Pine named Prometheus that was accidentally destroyed by a grad student in 1964 while taking a core sample. That is a very big OOPS!

The story and more photos can be found at Atlas Obscura.


Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

We had about 10 cm of snow overnight and the day began brilliant white and fresh. The sun even shone for most of the morning making the snow twinkle like a scatter of tiny diamonds. Jack and I decided to visit our little forest because the path is well used by dog people and their dogs and we were hoping it would be tramped down enough to make walking easier, and it was!  We had a slow walk, side-by-side and tried to revel in the sunshine, but today this thin, weak January sunlight only makes me weary of winter.

Tree Tuesday

This lonely Norway Spruce lives on top of Falufajallet Mountain in Sweden and is estimated to be about 9, 550 years old making it the worlds oldest tree. According to Atlas Obscura,

Located in Fulufjallet National Park, Old Tjikko began growing in this harsh tundra shortly after the glaciers receded from Scandinavia at the close of the last ice age. To put that into perspective, this lowly shrub was growing as humans learned to plow fields, domesticate the cat, and—2,000 years after it first took root—our ancestors begin learning to smelt copper.

Old Tjikko is part of a clonal organism and its age was determined by carbon dating of its roots. There’s a small path that leads to the tree and park rangers give free guided tours. It’s preferred that visitors not go unaccompanied. I’d say that people shouldn’t be allowed to visit at all except I’d like to go myself.

I may need to start a new bucket list just for the trees that I’d like to visit.

Jack’s Walk

It seems that the normal weather for the month of March has arrived early in Southwestern Ontario. Overnight our temps climbed from -10ºC to +4ºC  and with the warming came lots and lots of rain. Overnight it was freezing rain, but by morning it was just a steady, cold downpour. All our snow is melting into compacted sheets of ice and the rain is just laying on top making everything slick and slippery. At least the ice isn’t coating the trees, for now anyway. The temp is expected to drop below freezing by early evening and we can only hope that the rain will stop before then. It grieves me to see the big, mature trees heavy with ice and the saplings and dainty birches bending like contortionists desperate to save limb and life.

After a careful assessment, Jack and I decided that the back yard was as far as we would venture today. Even explorers and voyageurs need a day off now and then. So, sorry, no photo for today. Just kidding…here’s a fascinating tree I found at our local park last week. It’s dying, maybe already dead, but it’s decay is beautiful. I apologize for the bad light, but it was a gloomy January day. I wanted to take an initial photo with the intention to return and perhaps make a study of it. You can click for full-size to see some of the patterns on the bleached and barkless areas. The next photo is a piece of fallen bark that lay at the base of the tree. I moved it to a rock to take the photo.

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved