This lovely image, above, is from the office park where I see my retina specialist. But really, it could be just about anywhere in Connecticut. We are a heavily forested state.
I am sure that that comes as a shock to many of you reading this. For those of you who know your geography, you know that Connecticut is a relatively small state–the third smallest in fact–and that it is located along the east coast roughly equidistant between New York and Boston.
So to hear that it is heavily forested must come as a shock. How is this possible?
Of course this wasn’t always the case.
When Dutch and other European settlers arrived, the land was already being farmed by our indigenous peoples. The European settlers further cleared the existing forests and piled up the rocks that they found in our soil to form the stone walls that still exist today. Hiking trails in our woods occasionally follow the stone walls of the old farmsteads. Our local roads will also wind along these beautifully constructed walls that have stood for hundreds of years.
But as we abandoned agriculture for manufacturing, the forests began to regrow. It is estimated that Connecticut has 80% more trees now than it did when it was settled in the 1600s.
So just about everywhere you look, you will see trees, and mature trees as well. But lately, within the mature trees, I am seeing a disturbing number of dead trees–not dying trees, but dead ones. What has happened? Several things, unfortunately.
We have had several summers of drought–and this summer is turning into another of those. We have had several winters of unusual weather, with periods of warmth followed by abrupt cold and no insulating snow on the ground. Woody plants and larger plants like trees struggle with these sorts of changes. They might be able to endure a year or two of this, but they cannot endure it forever. The stress takes a toll on them and they die.
It’s always upsetting to lose a tree. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be something to get used to.