Sunday, October 5, 2008

Atlantic White Cedar Bog

Tall, straight, resistant to rot, the Atlantic white cedar, was once the tree of choice for the masts of sailing ships. By the time coal and steam had replaced wind as the energy that carried men and cargo across the high seas most of them had been logged and the bogs and wetlands where they grew, drained and cleared. These trees create their own eco-system and do not thrive outside of densely shaded bogs like the one in the photos HERE.

They are part of the natural transition in the life of the shallow lakes and ponds. Like the cypress of southern wetlands and swamps, the Atlantic white cedar can survive long periods of high water by producing "knees" or pneumatophores that grow from and aerate the roots. The images here were taken in a relatively dry period. The sphagnum moss has shrunk back to pads and clumps around the trees. In wetter seasons, the sphagnum spreads out and grows thick and deep enough that you can thrust an arm into the moss up to the shoulder, and makes the bogs appear as though bathed in green light. It would be easy to imagine the great amphibians and gigantic dragon flies of the Permian period inhabiting these bogs. As the moss and trees mature and die and are replaced, the ponds and lakes where they grow around the edges, gradually fill in, and other dry land loving evergreens and deciduous trees take over the woodlands.

There are dozens of species of wildflowers, frogs, snakes and other reptiles unique to these bogs, which are now rare and difficult to find. I stumbled across the one in these photos by accident years ago, and my attempts to find it again failed until late this summer on a trip to Oswego Lake, (on the edge of the Wharton State Forest in Southern New Jersey) with my son and several of his friends. I have been disappointed at how little there is on the web about these wonderful trees--no photos that I've been able to find. The slide show is the courtesy of one of my son's friends, Jesse Rucco, who remembered to bring a digital camera.

More links to the Atlantic White Cedar

An interesting footnote... some years ago, before the energy/ climate/ pollution/ economic/ crisis was visible to any but the more vigilant and aware, proposals were made for ships by computer controlled wind and solar power... ideas ridiculed and squashed by oil fueled propaganda.

Imagine... sailing ships again--synthetic sails adjusted not by barefoot sailors consoled to a life of hardship by rum and biscuits, but computer programs tuned to satellite weather reports, power alternating between wind and solar energy.

Entrenched power is the greatest enemy of imagination and invention... in the so called real world, or far removed from that... the world of publishing.

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