I have a short loop walk in the woods I take most every day that I am home. The dogs know this walk well and patiently ask, in their doggy ways of asking, to take this walk after I've had my morning coffee. If more people took walks in their local woods every day, I don't think we would ever see someone develop the property they walk through. We'd have a moratorium on development overnight. No one would be able to stand to see their beloved stomping grounds paved over with the implements of civilization.
I've long been an advocate for property rights. Property has rights. So do trees. Rocks. Plants. The things that inhabit a wooded area. This lone cedar tree also has rights. This is a brave tree: I can't find another cedar tree in the vicinity. In fact, I don't know how common these trees are at this elevation. I haven't seen many. I like to think the seed for this tree originated in the poop of a Stellar Jay. Stellar Jays migrate in the winter down to this elevation and the area I walk in is populated by quite a few Stellar Jays. I imagine they've been doing this for thousands of years: escaping the snows up above and wintering in our neighborhood. Just like the Black Tailed Deer that migrate out of the higher elevations down to our neck of the woods.
I like to think a migrating Stellar Jay planted the seed for this tree.
I've seen bigger cedar trees. This one is a healthy adult. Big enough--but in a few hundred years she will be much bigger. I'm no judge of the age of trees, but I'd guess it must be around 100 years old. Three hundred years from now, I hope she will still be standing tall and strong here in my beloved wood.
The tree survived the 2008 fire. She is scorched, blackened, burned for the first thirty feet of the tree.
I replied that I'm sure the tree has a name; she just hasn't told me what it is yet.
I regret that this tree will never be able to tell me her name and that I may not get to continue visiting this tree. There are signs of development going on. A new path being widened. Spaces being cleared on the walk that look like they are being marketed as sites to build a home. I found a piece of paper on my walk not too long ago, that had the property lines drawn on it for this area.
Will I still have visiting rights to this tree after the property is subdivided and some hippy dope grower fences the property off and brings in a double wide? I don't know. At this point in my life, I can't imagine not being able to visit this tree. And will the Stellar Jays that brought the seed for this tree from the much higher elevations where this variety of cedar tree is much more common--will those generations of Stellar Jays still have the habitat to visit this grove and this tree? I don't know.
Again, if the person who owns this property walked it everyday like I do, I don't think they'd sell it off in 10 acre sections as part of their inherited wealth's retirement plan. Some things are more important than money. A place to walk, to recreate, to visit my old friend the Cedar Tree, to watch the Stellar Jays scramble and cackle at me---how much are those things worth?
Better to be poor in retirement than to be deprived of a beloved tree and the flora and fauna that surrounds her.