The Woodpecker

Today they arrived behind our house and I stood watching as the claw gripped the tree where it was thick and full of life and the saw ate through its girth and the claw hoisted it upward into the air and downward where it smashed to the ground where others lay and while I was watching I saw the bird land on the tree nearby and maybe I only imagined the panic of the small and fragile red-headed woodpecker as he climbed upward hoping this one would not come down, but I don’t think so.

~ Susanne

Urban Logging

After years of wrangling and delays, the logging of the Tiffany Park Woods is underway. It was only last week that I took this picture after being awakened by the chain saws.

This is the same location today.

The woods are no match for the heavy equipment assembled against them. I am over it. There’s still a long way to go, but I’m pleased to see many trees around the perimeter still standing. I wonder if the select few marvel that they were chosen while those on the ash heap wonder what they did wrong.

I assume all the displaced animals have been welcomed to new homes. Refugees of sorts. It will be interesting to watch as houses go up.

Progress I guess.

~ Susanne

Awakened by Chain Saws

It’s the beginning of the end for the Tiffany Park Woods. The logging has begun.

Honestly I didn’t venture into the woods often though others did: neighbors, dog walkers, and boys playing army.  I suspect most of these grew up in the neighborhood and knew the woods like an old friend.  Still, I loved knowing they were there and enjoyed the peaceful backdrop they provided to my home and others. And I appreciated the visiting birds and deer who lived there.

For the past few years many tried to have the woods preserved but to no avail.  The twenty-two acres were sold and a large housing development would take their place.  So we have been waiting.

Finally this morning we woke to the hum of the chain saws telling us the work had begun.  The distant whine of the saws will grow louder each day until most of the woods are gone.

We’ve been promised that the trees in back of us will be retained as part of a wide buffer against the houses that will be built.  We’re thankful for whatever trees remain.

But we will miss the full loveliness of the woods we once enjoyed.

~ Susanne

Tiffany Park Woods Revisited

Behind my house in Renton there are 22 acres of woods.   You can see them through the fence in my backyard where they provide a wonderful backdrop of green making my own gardening efforts easier.

I have enjoyed their quiet beauty and the birds and wildlife who live in them. I’ve welcomed the deer who occasionally peer through the fence and let them prune my raspberry bushes when I forgot to close the gate.

Of all the friendly birds that have stopped by my yard (and there are many), my favorite was the red crested pileated woodpecker. I’ll never forget watching that giant bird with the bright red plume as he stopped for a drink and made my bird bath look small.  I have never seen another one in the wild.

It has already been a couple of years since we learned the woods had been sold.  At the time, neighbors voiced their complaints to the city and various hearings were held. Environmental studies were performed and inventories of wetlands, trees, birds and mammals were taken. But things being as they are it was only a matter of time until the clearing of the land and the building of the houses would begin.

I wonder how the trees feel about it?  Do they know the white tag or the blue tag or the pink tag pinned to their bark determines their fate?  Have the animals perhaps sensed what is coming and already relocated to more permanent homes?

Recently some friendly men came by and we asked them when work would begin.

“Soon,” they replied.

“But we have heard that for years,” we answered and laughed together.

But this time it really is soon. Their mission is to prepare the infrastructure to support the new homes.  Tree felling will begin within weeks and utilities should follow after. The peace and quiet will be gone for too long a time I fear. I wish it was already over and done.

I thought I would take a final walk through the woods before the logging begins and photograph what will be lost.  I follow the trail where young boys run and play and older boys walk their dogs.

I come across this comfy stool fit for a fairy.

and I find ferns with new spring fronds unfurling ..

The bleeding hearts are in bloom…

and the salmonberries are blossoming.

And of course there are the trees.

I find this tangle that will likely stick together while coming down.

They are ordinary perhaps, these Tiffany Park Woods, nothing special except to those who live near them.  Or in them.

I remember the first time I heard the deep hooting of the Great Horned Owl in the dead of night.  I wondered at the size of an owl that had such a booming voice resonating in the woods.  I got up hoping to catch a glimpse of him but of course it was too dark. Silly I know.  There are other owls too but I don’t know what kind. I’ve tried to remember the rhythms of their calls so I could look it up the next day.  But by morning I have usually forgotten.  I will miss the owls.

I grew up next to woods in West Seattle and have fond memories of the many hours spent in them; running on the trails, making beds of the ferns, and playing the games of childhood.  Maybe children don’t play in woods anymore.  But I still believe there is value in having some patches of wilderness in urban spaces.

The woods in Tiffany Park will soon be gone but my woods in West Seattle still remain.  For that I am thankful.

~ Susanne

My backyard forest

Did I tell you there is a forest in my backyard?  Behind my fence are twenty-two acres of typical northwest woods with mature Douglas firs, majestic old maples and trails through brush frequented by dogs and their walkers.  They form a wonderful backdrop to my yard and permeate everything with fragrance.

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Garden shed blending into the woods

Many birds and small mammals call these woods home.  There are chickadees, sparrows, wrens, hummingbirds, flickers and jays and juncos. I’ve heard the great horned owl hooting deep in the night and seen the pileated woodpecker stop by for a drink during the day.  And then there are the rabbits, and raccoon, and deer.

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This young deer came by for a bite to eat and to say hello through the fence.

Not only animals, but young men also play in the forest. I ran wide eyed for cover the first time I saw them rush by in army fatigues. I heard of them later at the hearing where we gathered to fight for the woods.  You see, those twenty-two acres have been sold.  To a developer.  We tried to explain what a loss it would be to the city and neighborhood and to the birds and animals who live there. How the woods should be kept just because.  Because they can never be replaced.   Because deer feed there without fear.  Because woodpeckers build homes inside standing snags.   Because boys run and build forts and play army.

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Stand near them, walk through them and you will know why.

But we did not prevail.  I did not expect we would.  They have promised to keep a buffer of trees around the perimeter.  We hope they keep their promise.  And we hope the trees in the buffer zone are strong enough to stand without their many companions who must come down to make way for the houses.

We have not yet heard the trucks rolling in or the chainsaws doing their deed. We will continue to enjoy this forest in our backyard until we do.

~  Sue