Plum Undone

When we first saw the property on which we now live, lovely white blooms were set against emerging green foliage, the tree of which graced us with thumb-sized plums of the right color but whose pits were nearly as large as the fruits! The leaves shaded one end of the drive and a portion of the master bedroom.

The dogs began to eat the fruit—pits and all—as soon as they fell ripe. You can imagine this was a painful lesson and one the dogs repeat at the first available fruit of each year. I also discovered the leaves were shot with holes, bugs and disease. The first year was enough. I wanted something that didn’t seed itself everywhere the chipmunks buried its fruit.

My husband wouldn’t hear of cutting down the tree, commonly called a pioneer plum. We added a Frost Peach and two Rainier Cherry trees near the plum. Sure enough, the pests infecting the plum thought our new additions were tasty.

With a redwood core and bark meat sandwiching a golden ring, the wood will make great art pieces as well as a sampling of plum-smoked edibles. Long live the cherries (and the peach)!

Section of plum tree.

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Island Survival

Image By Larry Farr||morguefile.com

Image By Larry Farr||morguefile.com

Lewis and Clark would be dismayed. The careful calculations they charted were of a forming and reforming Columbia River, which was destined to divide.

Swaths of explorable land forked the lake-like Columbia while heavy timber slowed the push of mist, rain and river. The ocean fought the flow of fresh water, diluting with low tide only to reclaim its mixture as the tide swelled.

The tide and the river’s pulse remain. With the felling of timber, the rise in soil run-off heaved the volume of the river. What the rush of spring melt had not washed away was suffocating in the sudden silt. Island swaths dwindled to stranded trees between muddy banks.

True, the onslaught of matter-dense river water will etch away the blunt tip of an island. And it is at the upstream the island gains debris with which it incrementally rebuilds itself. The trees march forward, sidling up to shore one another during the calmer months. The solidarity of trees’ roots claim any purchase—deadfall, rock and nutrients—that would otherwise escape the grasp of an island.

Then-maps will never match now-maps, or next-maps for that matter. The Pacific Northwest is a place set in its ways, however malleable the landscape.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson