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THE WOODS.   9

 

vision by which we were attended vanishes forever!

We will return to a consideration of trees and forests. The most unpromising feature in this direction one soon comes upon after entering the road. Here and there among the hoop-pole wire birch are (lead pines — victims of fires that killed them many years ago. They are too crooked, and crotched, and beset with strong limbs and knots, to serve for lumber; so they remain, scattered, gaunt, bare and gray, reaching out long naked arms defiantly to all winds. They are merely touched with decay ; only the " sap," or last growth, an inch or two in thickness, has become tattered and weather-stricken ; all the rest is sound and strong. These pines are unlike those of the same species that grow in the thick forests of their kind. In those conditions there is hard competition for room to live. There thousands of seeds of pine sprout and begin to grow within a small area. It is simply impossible for them all to reach maturity, or even arrive to a height of a few inches. They will be thinned out by natural selection; that is to say, those that are best fitted to continue will live. The advantage may be small, a mere bit more light or a better rootage or sounder seed, but on these points their lives


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