Monday, November 8, 2010

Tree snag

I confess to a fascination with dead wood, perhaps related to childhood memories of exploring woodpiles and decomposing logs. The echo of life is still there –I can imagine the seedling reaching for the sun, the unfurling of bud and leaf and inflorescence, the ripening of fruit or nut.

After death, another cycle of life begins – that of detritivores. On the microscopic level, bacteria and fungi colonize and start the breakdown process.

Invertebrates such as beetles, borers, and termites process wood nutrients or feast on fungi, and are feasted on in turn by vertebrates such as woodpeckers, anoles, and armadillos. Dead trees are used as homes by many species, including birds, bats, and squirrels.

This particular tree was an oak, probably a laurel oak. Something damaged it (lightning, a falling tree?), and the bark shows signs of regrowth round the split. The exterior bark and interior wood seemed to mirror each other, a glimpse of the past and present.

While nature may be extravagant, nothing goes to waste; all is consumed, refashioned, and repurposed – nature is the ultimate recycler.

You can click on the image to view it larger on my Flickr photostream.