I’ve wanted to live inside a tree ever since I saw My Side of the Mountain when I was a child. In this film that’s based on the story by Jean Craighead George, a young boy hollows and burns out a big old tree in the mountain wilderness. Not much square footage of course, but cozy. The tree can be seen in the background of the movie poster at left. Covered with fungi and in a sure state of decay, trees such as this (often called ‘snags’) are becoming more and more difficult to find.
The one shown below is located a couple minutes walk from my backyard. I was surprised to come across it again a couple of weeks ago after not seeing it for many years. I thought for sure the winds would have taken it down by now. These days, it’s surrounded with so many fast-growing Balsam Firs that it’s only visible from one angle. It’s riddled with more holes than ever and is much slimmer than it was when I first saw it almost two decades ago.
Although it’s always appeared a bit too small for my dwelling purposes, I’m sure it’s been used by numerous wild animals and birds over the years and suited them just fine. It probably provided them with lots of insects to eat too. Imagine a home that doesn’t just provide shelter but built-in stores of food as well? (I guess it would be the human equivalent of living above a convenience store). Snags also provide look-out roosts for birds of prey while crevasses in their peeling bark offer comfortable nooks for bats, frogs and beetles.
Though it used to be common practice to remove snags and dead wood from a forest floor, these trees are now valued so much for how they encourage bio-diversity in an environment, that some people are even creating artificial ones. They limb, girdle, remove the crown and drill holes into trees that are deemed more useful dead than alive in an effort to provide a habitat for wildlife.
The photo below is quite long and may require scrolling to view completely. I was concerned that if I reduced it too much in size that some of the texture would be lost. It certainly is beautiful.