My son and I went a little further south into the younger part of the woods to scout out the work we would ask a crew to help us with. The crew did not materialize, so we started the work on our own. These photos are of bittersweet vines; many of them are 2-4 inches in diameter with root systems that go as much as 4-6 feet into the soil. The bright orange is the sure sign that you have bittersweet. Two hours of work left us tired, and an entire nest of bittersweet, that had drowned three trees and threatened to drown another six, cut, pulled, and destroyed. We refer to these piles of bittersweet as nests due to how many layers can be uncovered. These old vines can become stacked on top of each other, sending roots into the ground from all parts of the vine.
I recognize that these photos are not attractive in the least. I’ve included a photo of the old oaks and the older part of the woods to keep the goal in mind-an open wood free of invasives. You can see in some of the photos how the tree itself becomes twisted due to the strength and weight of the vines.
Some might ask, “why not leave the vines on the trees? These photos look awful!” For now, the forest floor does look bad. If I don’t cut those severed vines into smaller pieces, they will be there for decades. But what will also be there are oak tree that will grow straight and tall, drowning out the light for the vines to grow.
What I could not capture with my camera was the Pileated Woodpecker that swooped over over us, as we finished our work, with his ridiculous call and flaming red head. Perhaps saying “thank you” for making sure he has plenty of tall, old trees to find his lunch?
From the looks of it-no snow, warming temps, and emerging buds, spring is going to be early this year. I hope to be able to post some photos from these woods that show some of spring’s beauty.
I am a fall and winter visitor to these woods, usually leaving when the warmer breezes arrive. This year may find me working later in the spring. I will keep updating and I hope you will keep visiting.
And I hope that you too have found worthwhile work that fills your hours.