“…the dreams of trees unfold”

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Sometimes a tree has roots that grow deeper than CT DEEP perceives. The Hickory as it once stood in a meadow at the northern end of WRRSP photo by Nancy Specht, Hamden CT

Sometimes a tree has roots that grow deeper than CT DEEP perceives. 
photo by Nancy Specht, Hamden CT

 

You can’t chop down a community’s nearly hundred-year-old heritage tree and act surprised when people get stirred up and angry.

 

 

Seriously, you cannot ENTirely expect people to put up and shut up after you’ve destroyed the perfectly healthy Hickory they’ve grown up calling “The Dream Tree,” their “confidant,” and “friend.”

 

Longtime park goer Kathy Hoyt is among many who cherished "The Dream Tree" photo supplied by K Hoyt

Longtime park goer Kathy Hoyt is among many who cherished “The Dream Tree”  photo supplied by K Hoyt

 

Except, placidly submitting to its will seems to be exactly what the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection expects West Rock Ridge State Park’s community to do, even as the park’s Hamden residents and local government representatives launch new efforts to convince the DEEP to support the planting of a new, hearty young sapling.

Long story short…

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Without warning, without consulting the park’s Advisory Council and posting public notice, as required by the 1975 state statute (S.A. NO. 75-80) that created the park, without giving any of the people who loved “The Dream Tree” a fair chance to defend it…

A DEEP grounds keeper (with the consent of a local park director) spent most of this past winter’s  dreary and grey Ground Hog Day destroying the stately hickory.

Adding insult to grave injury, the grounds keeper and his assistant then used the tree’s dismembered trunk, limbs and broken crown to block access to the tree’s popular meadow.

Hickories can grow to 100 feet, attain a girth of three feet and live 200 years. "The Dream Tree" Winter 2014

Hickories can grow to 100 feet, attain a girth of three feet and live 200 years. “The Dream Tree” Winter 2014

 

Imagine the depth of shock and grief hikers endured coming upon their old friend unawares?

Hamden Hiker Peter Sagnella discovered a call to action instead of the tree he grew up visiting.

Hamden Hiker Peter Sagnella discovered a call to action instead of the tree he grew up visiting.

 

When distraught park goers called the Deep out…

 

A Hamden family braved a winter storm to speak up for the felled tree. John and Christina Sagnella, with their children, Jack, 10 and Hannah, 8.

A Hamden family braved a winter storm to speak up for the felled tree. John and Christina Sagnella, with their children, Jack, 10 and Hannah, 8.

They were told DEEP officials had deemed the hickory an “attractive nuisance” that encouraged people to cross the meadow to enjoy its presence.

The DEEP also declared the tree a “predator perch” for hawks that might prey on the wildlife the agency says it prefers to encourage.

In other words, and as previously reported in previous news articles, CT DEEP decided the tree was “not conducive” to the creation of a wildflower-songbird-pollinator habitat.

"The Dream Tree's" Hamden meadow, WRRSP, July 2016

“The Dream Tree’s” Hamden meadow, WRRSP, July 2016

 

Despite the fact any regular, local hiker could have told DEEP officials the meadow’s waist-high summer grasses would naturally deter everyone but deer (their ticks) and all but the most determined (and rare) visitor . . . with or without the tree’s presence.

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Would have told them, that is, if CT DEEP had shared its concerns with the park community and its advisory council.

 

Oh, and as for the tree having served as a “predator perch?”

It’s doubtful birds of prey had much success employing the former hickory’s always lush canopy as a central vantage point, preferring instead* the views afforded through the sparser leaves of dead or dying trees.

Meanwhile, the fleet hawks that prey on ground-nesting birds, as well as more robust hunters like  red-tailed hawks, are still  regularly spotted soaring above the meadow’s rolling fields. No doubt launching their forays from the many various stands of trees that continue to flank its perimeter.

Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis photo by George W. Hartwell (c) 2004

Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis, photo: George W. Hartwell (c) 2004

 

 

So yes, despite all that has occurred, yet continues to aggravate…

 

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A section of the hickory’s trunk the DEEP used it to block access to the meadow … access since restored in deference to community outrage.

 

And moulder…

 

Five months after it's destruction, the hickory continues to gain messages of sorrow and determination.. k jurgens

Five months after it’s destruction, the hickory continues to gain messages of sympathy and determination.

 

And yet, still inspire…

 

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A number of “The Dream Tree’s” spry, young seedlings are thriving in a make-shift mini-forest somewhere in sheltered suburbia.

 

The Dream Tree's progeny, collected after the tree's untimely destruction, nurtured through the winter, growing stronger every day. Photo - k jurgens

“The Dream Tree’s” progeny, collected after the hickory’s untimely destruction, nurtured through the winter, growing stronger every day.

So, yes, as…

“Summer lies upon the world, and in a noon of gold, beneath the roof of sleeping leaves, the dreams of trees unfold…”

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Perhaps these Dreamletts can offer solace and hope to those who grew up in the shade of the hickory, who had hoped their own children might someday enjoy its jolly swing.

 

Original oil painting by long-time park visitor Linda Reilly.

“The Dream Tree,” Original oil painting by Linda Reilly, Woodbridge, CT

Indeed, may they help engender a basic respect for trees as living things in their own right, thereby rooting us in a more generous, life-sustaining humanity.

 

Because…

“While there’s life, there’s hope.” **

 

Grow strong, little Dream Trees, Grow tall and true. LLAP.

Grow strong, little Dream Trees, Grow tall and true. LLAP.

 

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*Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 4.42.26 PM Hawk facts pg. 59, “The Zoo That Never Was” by Canadian Naturalist and Author, R.D. Lawrence

 

 

    13755  ** “While there’s life, there’s hope.”                                           Marcus Tullius Cicero
All photographs by Katherine Jurgens – except where noted.