Six years ago a first-time visitor to Balsamea — call him Schmoe — looked at a young beech tree in the yard (then just a campsite) and asked, “What’s that doing there?”
His tone seemed to imply that there was something wrong with it being there — or something wrong with me for having it there.
I told him it was a beech tree that I saved when I cleared all the other original trees from that little part of the forest. (This was during my Thoreauvian Experiment, living off-grid in a 100 square foot camper for two years, with a dog, before Balsamea grew a house in 2010. I had cleared only a small space in the woods, less than a tenth of an acre.)
Other examples of American Beech:
I kept that tree because it had a nice shape, as opposed to so many other trees growing scraggly in our dense, competitive woods. When allowed to grow in the open, beeches have a beautiful shape and make terrific shade trees and climbing trees, and they produce spectacular autumn colors that last long after all the maples go bare.
When clearing space, I kept a lot of trees that were in bad shape, too. I nursed them along and they are wonderful now. In truth they were always wonderful. I just imposed my aesthetic notions on them, with the help of lopping shears.
Before I got to tell Schmoe why I kept that beech tree, or why I liked it, he added, “It’s a junk tree. They get that bark rust.”