Stumped

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23508540301_953fbbd696My university has about 200 acres of forest. These woodlands serve various functions. People ride bikes and walk (or ski) on its trails. Earlier in the university’s history (and throughout the region), oil was extracted from the forest. The university’s ROTC program uses the forest for land navigation training. The forest has seen paths with three generations of Catholic stations of the cross for the faithful to trod and pray.

The forest has value to the university as a commodity. This is a hardwood forest — with plenty of red and white oaks, red and silver maples, shagbark hickory, an occasional black walnut (so I’ve been told) and hornbeam. There’s even one American chestnut approaching the end of arboreal adolescence with several surrounding chestnut saplings.

The university has logged the forest at least three times — 40 years ago, 15 years ago, and in this past academic year. That leaves stumps. Lots of stumps. (And no, most of the time I can’t tell which stump came from which earlier logging episode.) I have walked in this forest three or four times a week for the past seven years. I know the stumps. I’ve even considered naming them. But I do have favorites. So I photograph them.

Stumps have uses, too. They can “seed” or sprout new trees. They, like the slash logging produces, will decay into fuel for further forest growth. They provide habitat and feeding stations for the endless chipmunks I see scampering around  the university’s forest.

It’s a wonderful forest for both me and the chipmunks. Walking through it is good for my mind and soul. And there’s plenty of acorns for the chipmunks.

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