a hemlock tree

4.25.20 ~ Woodlot Sanctuary, Stonington, Connecticut

On the last Saturday in April we took a nice walk through the woods at the Woodlot Sanctuary. It was the first time in the spring that we needed bug spray! We loved all the stone walls.

4.25.20 ~ sign of the times

Three lots totaling approximately 29 acres include a variety of habitats. Much of the central portion is upland forest featuring rocky outcrops and glacial erratics. The landscape shows a history of varied forestry practices over decades. It is now dominated by oak and beech with hickory, sassafras, and scattered evergreens as well, and offers an excellent understory of huckleberry and lowbush blueberry. The eastern border is comprised of wetlands that emerge into a brook that flows ultimately into Stonington Harbor; wetlands in the western portion drain directly into the Deans Mill Reservoir. The preserve is home to a variety of wildlife including several species which have special status in CT. Box turtles and spotted turtles have been found on the property. Red-shouldered hawks and broad-winged hawks are regular nesters as well.
~ Avalonia Land Conservancy website

4.25.20 ~ an inviting turn on the path

When we spotted the huge boulder below I was so surprised by what I found behind it. A hemlock tree! There aren’t too many of these beloved trees left in Connecticut because of the woolly adelgid infestation. You can imagine I spent a lot of time communing with this one.

hemlock tree trunk

It’s not easy to get to the lower branches. I remember getting a chair or a stepladder to help me get to the bottom branches so I could climb my tree.

underside of lower branches
looking up

For a child, the branches are nice and close together, making the climb feel pretty safe. I don’t think I could fit between those branches as an adult! After I grew up my mother told me that she couldn’t keep watching if she looked out the window and saw me climbing my favorite hemlock tree. But she never stopped me.

the bark

How do parents feel about children climbing trees these days? There are so many safety rules, like wearing bike helmets or harnesses in high chairs, that we never had when I was a child.

what a beauty

I would have loved to climb this hemlock! But it was so pleasant spending some time with it and touching it and appreciating its being. I hope it’s okay. I wonder how it survived. When you think of it, trees have suffered from their own pandemics over time. The deaths of my childhood hemlocks were very prolonged and painful for me to witness.

one of many stone walls
4.25.20 ~ princess pine poking through the leaves

We now have 86 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. Our county (New London) has 623 confirmed cases and 43 deaths. Still rising. But, I’m starting to feel a little bit of hope.

There’s a chance that hundreds of millions of doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine could be available by early next year, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Thursday, even though the federal government has not approved a vaccine against the virus.
~ Brakkton Booker
(National Public Radio, April 30, 2020)

16 thoughts on “a hemlock tree”

  1. I’m happy for you, that you found a beloved hemlock tree. The landscape here in the Midwest was denuded by Dutch elm disease. The campus of my first college, Grinnell College in Iowa, was almost unrecognizable after all the elms had perished. It seems like it must be painful for them to die… Anyway, I’m glad that you found a survivor! 🙂

    1. Unrecognizable ~ that’s the perfect word to describe what the woods surrounding my childhood home look like now. So sorry about your elm trees! We lost them here in New England, too, except my grandparents on Cape Cod had one nex to their house that somehow survived. Last I knew it was still there. New Haven, Connecticut is known as the Elm City, although they were mostly wiped out…

  2. It was a delight to share in the glory of this gorgeous, towering hemlock that you found, Barbara. Thank you for giving us all angles of this beauty, your love and past with them, and the parallel to pandemic.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Jet. And thank you so much for your kind comment. It was definitely an unexpected and pleasant surprise to bump into such a tall and seemingly healthy hemlock tree on our woodland wanderings.

  3. Thanks again, Barbara! The rock with the plaque looks just like a frog who’s facing left, don’t you think?

  4. Sounds lovely! I am glad you have to opportunity to walk amongst the trees. I’m not aware that I have seen a hemlock tree. If I did I didn’t know it as one!

    1. I looked at a range map for eastern hemlocks and they can be found in northern New Jersey but not in the southern half of the state. I was surprised how limited their natural distribution is.

  5. What a beautiful hemlock! It’s wonderful that it has survived the insect infestation. One of my children was a climber, and I quickly learned that he didn’t get himself into situations that he couldn’t safely get himself out of.

    1. Hmmm… my daughter was a climber, too, but I haven’t heard of my granddaughter climbing trees so far. My son-in-law climbs everything, including rock faces, which makes me nervous, but he has good reflexes and is not accident-prone. (I think he was a mountain goat in a previous life!) Wondering what my grandson will be like…

  6. Hemlock trees are magic. We actually have a forest of them up the road. Sorry to hear about the number of COVID cases in your immediate area. We only have 99 in the whole Upper Peninsula. Of course, there are thousands of cases downstate, mostly in the urban areas.

    1. How lucky you are to have a magical hemlock forest close by! Was the woolly adelgid infestation not as bad in your neck of the woods?

      Bad as COVID is here it is much worse in the western part of the state near NYC. My son-in-law’s parents and two grandmothers live in Stamford, which has the worst numbers in the state. Last I heard they were OK but I can’t help worrying. Stay safe and be well, Kathy. *hugs*

      1. The infestation must not have been as bad…although I really don’t know. The hemlocks aren’t everywhere, just in certain places. It’s wonderful to stand beneath them.

        1. Oh dear, I decided to do some research. The woolly adelgid infestation has not reached the Upper Peninsula yet, or at least it hadn’t by 2017. (See map on the link below.) Sadly, your hemlock forest might be invaded some day. My brother-in-law is a botanist and he tried everything he could think of to save the hemlock forest I grew up in. Sigh… Some of my happiest childhood moments were underneath or up in the hemlock trees.


          1. I feel maybe today is the day to visit the hemlocks and tell them how much some of us have loved them.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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