Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Humble, Helpful Log

Two years ago one of our water oaks died, and two weeks ago it finally fell—deep in the backyard. It is quite enormous, the dead body of the tree. But we didn’t cart it off; we let it lie.

Why? Because logs serve important ecological functions. As they slowly decay, their nutrients and minerals trickle back into the soil, enriching it. Logs store moisture, too, and can serve as nurse logs for new tree seedlings. They offer food for termites, beetles, and other wood-eating insects, and provide homes and hiding places for a wide assortment of animals, including carpenter ants, spiders, centipedes, toads, and salamanders. Woodpeckers and raccoons often hunt on logs.

But these aren’t the only reasons we chose to keep our log in place. We kept it because it’s just plain cool to look at, and comfortable to sit on. It’s a great spot to have some tea and wear a funny hat.

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