Pining Away

A few weeks ago I posted the photo below on Facebook and asked for ideas about what to do with the trunk of an enormous pine tree that had pined away.


I'm guessing that the big pine was about 150 years old.
The pine tree was about 150 years old.


Many people responded: make it into a table, or benches, a totem, planters, bird houses or toothpicks (hard to imagine how many of those there would be!), an art display: Twenty Ways to Commemorate a Fallen Pine. (Thanks, Janet. I loved that idea.)

But that’s not what has happened.

Once we removed the branches we could see the shape of the tree trunk.  My son-in-law was the first to spot it. Walking along the top of the trunk with his son, he said it looked like a crocodile or a lizard.  He pointed to the knotholes. See the eyes?


Do you see the creature's eyes?
Do you see the creature’s eyes? And the legs?


He said it would make a great play structure and immediately I could imagine grandchildren climbing all over it and using it for games only they could imagine.

The problem was how to move one very big tree trunk from the farmhouse, which we rent out, to our house about a kilometre away. The trunk was long. And heavy. Yes, we could cut it into pieces but much of the attraction came from  the sheer size of the thing. Could we possibly move it in one piece?

As it turns out, yes, we could. And yes, we did.

First, though, a certain amount of head scratching was required.


Hm-m-m. What if we ...
Hm-m-m. What if we …


Luckily, living in the country, equipment that can lift heavy loads isn’t hard to find.


Bruce's big rig was essential.
Bruce’s excavator was essential and thankfully he was just finishing up another job close by.


So with Bruce lifting the heavy end with his excavator, and Jacques lifting the lighter end with his tractor, the journey began.

Across the lawn behind the farmhouse …


The base of the tree had rotted which explains why it toppled.
The base of the tree had rotted which explains why it toppled.


… and along the rocky road that cuts off a corner …


The lift on the tractor is in the front so Jacques was driving backwards for the entire journey.
The lift is on the front of the tractor so Jacques had to back up the whole way.


… then onto the public road that leads to our house.


There isn't a lot of traffic on this road so we didn't cause a traffic jam.
There wasn’t a lot of traffic on the road at the time so we didn’t cause a traffic jam.


Jacques and Bruce drove slowly. Even so, the  tree trunk swayed precariously as they moved down the hill, along a road with lots of dips and bumps. (The road is scheduled to be remade entirely a few months from now. I’m not looking forward to that.)

Our driveway is at the bottom of the hill. I thought they’d have trouble making the sharp turn, but these men are skillful and know exactly what their equipment can do.


Here you see the length of the trunk. I haven't measured it but I estimate it is about 40 feet long.
Here you see the length of the trunk. I haven’t measured it but I estimate it is at least 40 feet long.


The trunk made its way down the driveway …


We only had to cut one low-hanging branch.
Thankfully we only had to cut one low-hanging branch.


… across the lawn (aka The Big Meadow) …


Here it is passing the linden tree at the end of the Big Meadow.
The ground was still wet, even soggy in places, so the excavator made a mess. But the ground will recover quickly once it dries up and the grass begins to grow.


… to its new home on the bank above Lake Massawippi. The whole process took about 60 minutes, not including the head scratching.


We put the tree trunk between two old maple trees, planted about the same time that the pine tree was.
We put the tree trunk between two maple trees that are about the same age  — 150 or so.


Jacques immediately tried it out.


Yep, it works.
Yep, it works. And it’s fun.


The trunk will ooze sap for some time but it will dry out eventually.


It looks a bit like a very large earthworm crawling across the grass.
It looks to me like a very large earthworm inching its way across the grass.


I may cut steps into the right-hand end of the trunk, or shape it like the nose of a crocodile. I may paint the knotholes into eyes or add a snaggletooth to make the croc smile. I may let the sawn circles where branches were removed go grey or I may polish and seal them with shellac.


Love the stubby little legs!
I love the stubby little legs and the snout that points towards the house in the distance.


Or I may just leave well enough alone. But whatever I do (and I welcome ideas, the crazier the better), this creature needs a name.

Suggestions, anyone?