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A Toast, To a Very Old Friend


The Holidays of course remind us of what is important, who and want matters to us. Nothing lasts forever, no matter its importance.  I’m a big fan of trees, as anyone who read this blog will know. Though I appreciate all trees, I’ve got my favorites. The road from Gate 41 at the Quabbin Reservoir in Petersham, to the water is one of my favorite, very short walks because of one tree in particular.

It may not look like much, particularly in the winter.  But a closer look at its branches gives one a sense of real strength, at least it does so for me.  It’s circumference is way over six feet.  You can’t really tell the age of a tree without examining it’s rings, but this tree is embedded in a stone fence in what was once the community of Storrsville, which was essentially abandoned by it’s occupants well before the Quabbin Reservoir was created in the 1930’s.  I suspect this tree was not only there at the time, but was probably already old.  A tree like this can be well over 150 years old, dating it back to the Civil War era.  A close up view might explain my fondness for this big guy.

In the background you can see Rand Brook and on the other side of the brook is an old mill dating back well into the middle to early 1800’s.  We have seen this tree in all sorts of weather and it is still very much open for business.  Loaded with leaves in the summer.  So of course, it was still loaded with leaves when the October 31 ice and snow storm hit, a storm that wreaked havoc on trees and power lines.  And on our friend here.

Will it survive?  I don’t know.  That’s a big wound.  My guess is that it will survive for at least a few more seasons, but wounds allow for infections.  The Division of Conservation and Recreation who manage the Reservoir typically leave things wild unless fallen limbs block the road.  You could tell that they had in fact sawed and moved off some of what fell.  Beyond that, this wonderful old tree is probably on it’s own.  I propose then a Holiday toast to what matters.  Cheers.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. I felt that way about an old apple tree I used to see in Colrain many years ago. Friends and I used to visit the Halifax Gorge before it was restricted and I’d always stop and visit that tree. There is another in Quabbin Park I like as well although not as old or with as much character as yours.
    I hope you get to enjoy your friend for many more years, James. Nice post.

    December 19, 2011
    • jameshuntphotography #

      Thanks Steve. Apple Trees have so much character when they are older. I happened upon an image of one just yesterday in a book by Deborah Sandidge. Another place at the Quabbin that we like for comparable trees is the road from Gate 30 or 29. Happy Holidays!

      December 19, 2011
  2. Molly #

    Nice blog! I love big old trees like that too. I learned that there is an ecology term for them-“wolf trees”-that describes trees near old stone walls. They could only get so big since they used to be in fields where there wasn’t any competition for sunlight. Hopefully this one does okay for a while, it is still beautiful!

    December 19, 2011
    • jameshuntphotography #

      Thanks Molly! I love that term, “wolf trees.” I can see it. I’m assuming that trees like this are planted for shade for those working on the farm, but I’m not sure. I hope it will be OK, but just looking at the pictures for this blog, I don’t know. I’m actually thinking that two of the larger four limbs were broken, and that the one in the picture wasn’t removed by DCR because it was not in the road. But this tree has seen some amazing times. Who knows!

      December 19, 2011
  3. I can see why you’re fascinated with this tree. It looks especially appealing in the first photograph, with the layer of read leaves on the ground around it. Do you know what sort of tree it is?

    Steve Schwartzman

    December 19, 2011
    • jameshuntphotography #

      Sorry for the slow response. It is a maple I believe.

      December 24, 2011
  4. Hello Mr. Hunt,
    I’ve just started my own blog ( and I know I have a lot to learn about how to make a blog look attractive and put photos in like you do in yours. It is nice to read the comments people leave for you. I am sure you are having great success with your blog especially with the beautiful professional photos you have. Keep up the great work.

    December 30, 2011
    • jameshuntphotography #

      Thanks for the kind words. Good luck with your blog! I’ve never been to Prince Edward Island, but would love to go some day. A great location for photography.

      December 31, 2011

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