Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Next Day

Our backyard Monday morning:

Our backyard Tuesday morning:

Thanks to Derek's efforts, the tree was all chopped up, the major limbs already taken care of.  All that was left was to go around the yard gathering the smaller branches, sticks, and bark that had been peeled off the tree during the storm.  This task fell to Adelaide and me.  Adelaide performed the work with enthusiasm; she enjoys helping and revels in our praise.  Atticus threw exactly two sticks into the firepit, picked up a third, and spent the next 30 minutes wandering around the stumps, hitting pieces of wood, jousting imaginary foes, and swinging his new favorite toy over his head. 

At one point, I made a rare stab at being super-mom and called Adelaide over to examine one of the largest logs.  I pointed out to her the rings in the cross-section of wood, and we discussed annual rings and the age of trees. 

We picked three different places in the wood and counted them.  Each time we got a number around fifty, but here's the thing:  this tree has one main trunk, which then forked into two main limbs.  It lost one of those limbs in the storm, so the part of the tree that we were looking at was from a place perhaps ten feet above the base, and definitely smaller in diameter than the very bottom of the trunk.  Doesn't this mean that there would be more rings there at the base?  So is the tree actually older than just fifty years?  Am I the only one who knows practically nothing about figuring the age of trees?

So what started as a bit of a natural science lesson for Adelaide ended with me scratching my head and arguing with myself.  Being used to this kind of behavior in her mother, our daughter soon wandered off to pile more debris into the firepit and sing to herself.   

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