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Planting Our Sugar Pines

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Two days before Christmas we planted our first trees in the forest we love.  It felt good to be back home, in the cold air, even though the surrounding scene is still brutal with tree death and fire debris.

Sugar pines are special trees to the families in this area, because most of the kids attended SugarPine Preschool at some point over the past 30ish years.  Sugar pines grow to be the tallest and most massive of the pines, starting from a tiny seed, just like our Cobb kids.  Miss Lisa, SugarPine’s long-time teacher, arranged donations of seedlings from the Sugar Pine Foundation in the Tahoe area.  The children of SugarPine Preschool each got the opportunity to adopt one of these little trees.

miss lisa sugar pines

Sadly, the days of SugarPine Preschool are over, as it burned to the ground in the Valley Fire last September.  The legacy of  Miss Lisa, and her sugar pine children, will live on through these grand trees.

sugar pines in the forest

We decided to plant these seedlings on the ridge near our home, at the entrance to the forest where we spent our lives, where many great sugar pines once stood.  This place is safe from the heavy equipment brigade, yet close enough for us to care for them over the next few years.


We carefully loosened and straightened the roots, and placed them in a hole with wet, rich soil.  A thick layer of mulch will help keep the roots cool and moist, though we will continue to water them in the dry months over the next few years.

ashers sugar pine

The neighborhood looks nothing like it did a few short months ago, but these little trees give me hope.  I can’t wait to watch them grow to be the tallest and oldest trees in this new forest.

As stark contrast, this is what it look like 100 feet away…

log deck

These were the ponderosa pines that lined our street, and made this such a special place to live.  The “R” mark means that they will be removed, and because pine is not desirable, they will likely be shipped to China to be made into cardboard.

cut trees

This “old growth” ponderosa is staying, to be milled into useful lumber by neighbors, for their new house.  We’ve borrowed an Alaskan chainsaw mill to pass around to the neighbors on the street, so we can preserve what is left of these magnificent trees, and honor their existence.

We counted 179 rings on this great tree.

counting rings

We’ve also gotten into the habit of bringing a bucket of acorns to the birds when we visit the neighborhood.  With the forest burned, there is very little food for the animals.  In the next month, we will be installing birdhouses, so they will have places to build their nests when they come home.

acorns for the birds

It won’t be too long before we start rebuilding our home, and maybe by this time next year we’ll be living on our street again.  The forest is forever changed, but that is the cycle of life and impermanence.  For now, we will do what we can to support the regrowth of the forest… and ourselves.  I will be watching over those two little sugar pines on the ridge, hopefully, for the rest of my life.

Take a peek into my world of Eating, Gardening, Making and Mothering, authentically and with meaning. Thanks for visiting!
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