The cold winter days are upon us which leaves many of us in Virginia pining for warmer weather. The same is true for Virginia’s forests. Trees don’t grow much in the winter when the ground is frozen but come warmer soil, it’s off to the races.
The VALOR Fellows had a hay day with Jason Fisher of Virginia Cooperative Extension and a local timberman gracious enough to direct his hunting lessees elsewhere for the day so that those of us who aren’t the type of Virginia Tech fans with bright orange accessories stashed in our bags for spontaneous tailgate parties prowled around in the woods unscathed.
We saw young and old Virginia pine and hardwoods, learned how to take core samples, determine when a tree is mature, why some trees are left behind come harvest (sneaky creek leaners), how to convene your lawmakers to hear farmers’ voices, and as an added bonus, a short course in the mating rituals of deer.
My family owns some forested property and I’ve always rejected the idea of harvesting timber from it. Out of ignorance, I learned. Dr. Suess says the Truffula trees will disappear if we cut them down! But what the Lorax forgot to mention is that harvesting renewable resources responsibly is the best use of our land and gifts we’ve been given. “If you don’t cut it, someone else will.” This statement hit home for me. And if “someone” is going to cut it, I’d prefer it be someone committed to responsible forest management than leaving it to the next guy or gal in hopes that they don’t screw it up.
No one is making any more land these days. But they are making more trees, and thank goodness for that. In this season of gratitude, I am so grateful that we have this incredible renewable resource from which the hunters can put food on the table, children can learn to write with pencil and paper, the family can gather around a beautifully crafted dinner table, under a roof of sturdy trusses, we can play cornhole in the yard, hear sneakers squeak on gym floors, and yes, even that I can cover my blemishes with wood by-products. Thank the good Lord for Virginia’s forests and our timbermen and women! I thank the agriculturalists out there who invest their lives in this renewable industry. It’s not for the short-sighted.
So while you’re pining for warmer weather this holiday season, remember the Virginia Pine. Stay strong, sturdy your roots, and let the sunshine propel you higher.
Merry Christmas, friends!