Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree Update

Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree – May 2, 2021

The Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree has done well since it was installed precisely a year ago, on the second of May of 2020, which was the third anniversary of the passing of Steven Michael Ralls.

Although it was installed after the primary rainy season, it enjoyed a few late rain showers prior to requiring supplemental irrigation through summer. It was occasionally given a bit of fertilizer to help it get established. Staking was not necessary.

The young tree may not seem to be much larger now than it was a year ago, but has undoubtedly dispersed roots sufficiently to survive without supplemental irrigation. It may receive a few more doses of fertilizer in conjunction with occasional supplemental irrigation, just to accelerate growth while it is still young and vulnerable, but should not get so much that it becomes reliant on such intervention.

Now that the tree is established and ready to grow more than it did last year, adjacent and freshly foliated box elders will be pruned or felled to allow more sunlight through. More box elders and other nearby small trees will be subordinated and felled to accommodate growth in the future.

The Steven Michael Ralls was the first of a row of trees that were installed to partially obscure the view of an industrial building from an adjacent roadway. Five Arizona cypress, two deodar cedars and a coast live oak were added last autumn to disperse roots through winter. Five other deodar cedars were installed nearby to partially obscure another view. All are also doing well now that the weather is warming. Since they were installed prior to the rainy season, they likewise should not require supplemental irrigation, even if they might get a bit.

Previous posts explain the importance of the Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree.

The Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree on May 2 of 2021 and 2020. (The images do not match well because I did not plan this comparison when taking the pictures.)

November 1, 2020 -Memorial Tree Update

The Memorial Tree is remarkably healthy!

The Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park was not expected to survive damage inflicted by a vandal last June. However, it recovered with unexpected efficiency and vigor, at a time of year when growth should have been decelerating prior to autumn. It is as if the vandalism never happened.

The worst of the damage is nearly healed.

After unsuccessfully attempting to poison the Memorial Tree with salt, the vandal sliced more than half way through the trunk in three places. The worst of these three slices is nearly healed. Another has already healed over. The third is so efficiently healed that the scar is barely visible.

This damage is already healed over.

A gardener who maintains Felton Covered Bridge Park installed a cage of chicken wire around the lower portion of the trunk to hopefully dissuade the vandal from attacking the Memorial Tree again. The trunk is sturdier and would be more resilient to such vandalism than it was last June.

This damage healed over so efficiently that it is difficult to find. The scar is barely visible near the top of the picture.

Prior to the vandalism, the Memorial Tree had grown vigorously through spring, and was already decelerating its growth for summer, as is normal for the species within a natural habitat. By late summer, it would have been expected to concentrate resources into dormant terminal buds prior to defoliation through autumn and dormancy through winter.

Instead, the Memorial Tree responded to the vascular distress associated with the vandalism by suddenly and unexpectedly accelerating vigorous vegetative growth until it was compelled to decelerate by cooling autumn weather. Instead of producing such growth below the damage, as is typical, the determined little Memorial Tree expanded its developing upper canopy.

More than half of this vigorous growth developed after the Memorial Tree was vandalized.

The Memorial Tree has recovered so efficiently that it will likely require only minor grooming while dormant through winter, to remove a few overly vigorous stems from the lower canopy. Minor stubble remains to promote trunk caliper development. The trunk may no longer need binding. The stabilizing lodgepole should remain for at least next year, even if it is unnecessary.

All this new growth will be groomed while dormant through winter.

Members of the Community offered to replace the Memorial Tree after it was vandalized and not expected to survive. Fortunately, replacement will not be necessary. This little Memorial Tree has survived other forms of damage, and is determined to continue to survive and flourish.

Fire On The Mountain

Burned leaves fell from the sky a mile and a half from the CZU Lightning Complex Fire.

Other obligations have prevented me from writing here at a time when there is so much to write about. Even now, I must be brief. I do not yet know when I will be able to resume writing weekly as did I prior to about a month ago.

Coronavirus, or whatever it is known as, necessitated the closure of the Conference Center where I work a few days weekly. The facilities are maintained, but, until recently, unused. Most of us who work there needed to find employment elsewhere. It has been financially difficult for many of us, as well as countless others all over the World.

Then, about a month ago, the entire region was evacuated ahead of the migration of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. Many in the region lost their homes to the Fire, and essentially became homeless. The Community has been as generous and accommodating as it has always been.

As firefighters arrived from so many distant regions, some were accommodated in the otherwise unused lodges of the Conference Center. It was a practical arrangement. They had use for such lodging. Such lodging just happened to be vacant because of the coronavirus.

As firefighters started to vacate the Conference Center and return home, residents of the region also started to return home after evacuation. Some of those who had no homes to return to procured temporary homes from the otherwise unused cabins of the Conference Center. Again, it is a practical arrangement. They had use for cabins that just happen to be vacant.

Also, volunteers who came to the region to assist those who lost their homes as a result of the Fire now reside in some of the lodges that were formerly occupied by the firefighters.

It is unfortunate that there are not sufficient accommodations at the Conference Center for everyone who lost their homes. So much about the situation is unfortunate. The Community will do what it can. Somehow, it always does.

Ash is everywhere.

A New Surplus

Yellow summer squash is almost as abundant as zucchini.

Felton is certainly no place to go hungry in. The generosity here can be a bit overwhelming at times. Surplus of perishable food that must be frozen almost exceeds the capacity of the freezers that we use. Some of the non perishable food gets transferred to a somewhat well stocked pantry where it is shared with anyone in the Community who wants it, regardless of need.

Food distribution between 11:00 and noon on Thursday at Community Bridges still helps by providing more variety of food, but what is procured is shared amongst more significant groups. Some of us take what we get to share with those we work with, because some have not been working as much as they typically do lately. Nonetheless, there is still sometimes a bit of surplus.

Now, there is about to be a little bit more. The vegetable plants that some of us started in various small garden plots have been producing a few minor vegetables, and are just about to start producing more significantly. Even vegetable plants that got started late are catching up with a normal schedule now that days are longer and the weather is warming. It is that time of year.

Frequent harvest of zucchini promotes continual production.

Unfortunately, there could be a slight increase in the need for this minor bit of surplus at about the same time that it becomes available. So many in the Community who rely on tourism and associated industries for revenue will be earning less than normal during what should be the busiest season. Although more can return to work now, fewer tourists can afford to spend much.

Diminished revenue limits any expenditure on the necessities of life. A few of those who are so very generous to us might now benefit from the minor surplus that they helped us to generate.

To enhance production, a few bits of corn tassel will get snipped to dust the silks.

What About Everyone Else?

Life is difficult sometimes. It is certainly less difficult for some than it is for others. Nonetheless, no one gets through from beginning to end without some degree of difficulty. Those of us who have experienced significant difficulty may believe that others have better situations, and there are always many who do, but our perceptions of their respective situations really are limited.

Nowadays, many of those who have had better situations than some of us will be experiencing formerly unforseen difficulties. For many, such difficulties will be more stressful than for those of us who have experienced them previously. Most of us crave and strive for stability and security. Many had done well with achieving a better than average degree of stability and security.

So much of that is compromised or challenged now. Some of us with formerly stable employment have been unemployed for quite a while. Some will remain unemployed for a while longer. A few will be without employment to return to. Consequently, some will be unable to pay mortgages, rents and other important bills. Consequences of this are still unknown, but will be severe.

Our minor group has been fortunate for the past many years. So many who formerly lacked homes have procured domestic situations. So many who lacked employment are now lucratively employed. Fewer of us are utilizing the resources that were so helpful to so many more years ago. Fortunately, some of these resources are still available for a different demographic in need.

Hopefully, this current situation does not get as unpleasant as it has potential to. It is already very difficult for some, and in some regards, will likely get significantly worse before improving. Many of us are already doing what we can to help alleviate the severity of this major disruption of normalcy.

Social Distancing

While so many of those with homes to go home to are not out socializing, social distancing should be easier for the rest of us. In many regards it is. Although some who lack homes live within very minimal proximity of others in the same situation, the innate crowding is no worse than it is for families with children living in the same home. Some have dispersed to avoid socializing.

Of course, because of the difficulty of storing food, most of those who lack kitchens must still shop for food more frequently than most. Some manage to store a bit more than typical, in order to avoid shopping. Some are even consuming more of the edible but undesirable vegetation that grows wildly along the roads. It is better for stinging nettle to be harvested from trails anyway.

It is amazing that both Felton Presbyterian Church and Saint John’s Catholic Church continue to serve lunch. Felton Presbyterian Church serves lunch right around noon on Tuesday, starting a bit earlier and continuing a bit later so that a large group does not need to arrive at the same time. Saint John’s Catholic Church serves lunch between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Thursday.

The most important stipulation is that bagged lunches are served to go only. No one can stay to eat. The hours from which lunch is served at Saint John’s Catholic Church are abbreviated for now as well, starting half an hour later, and ending an hour and a half earlier. Of course that can change. Those preparing lunches for us really should be isolating at home, not out socializing.

Even with all that is going on in Felton and the rest of the World, it is amazing that the Community continues to provide for those who need it most.

Dixie and Associates

Dixie was such a princess!

Dixie has been gone longer than most of us realize. She passed away two years ago on February 18.

She certainly was the princess of her empire. Her dedication to her regal obligations was exemplary.

Of course, her species is famous for their dedication. That is why they stay with us when things get difficult.

Only a few years after losing the person she had always lived with, and the home that they shared in Boulder Creek, Dixie lost her second home south of Felton. She adapted and continued with her duties until the very end.

Gala is a gingerbread dog, and frosted around her muzzle now.

Galadriel, whom most of us know as Gala, spent most of her life in a comfortable home with a spacious fenced back yard. She does not miss it as long as she is with the person she has always lived with. The same applies to Meggy Mae, who has traveled to other towns and even Idaho as the person she lives with pursued employment.

Meggy Mae is a bit slower these days, but is as distinguished as she ever was.

Some of our companions lack permanent homes. Others live in comfortable homes and even in other towns, but come to visit enough to be integral components of our Community.

Peewee lives a comfortable life in Bonny Doon.

There are too many to get pictures of them all. Buddy is a stout rat terrier and chihuahua hybrid who had relocated to Gilroy and Morgan Hill for employment of his person, but is back in town now. Loki, a spitz, lost his person and their home several years ago, but now lives quite comfortably in Boulder Creek.

Buttercup lost the person she had always lived with, and their home, but is now in a new home with a new family.

It is very difficult for everyone involved when a companion must live with other people in another home while his or her primary family is without a home. Most of the companions of those who lack homes within our Community have been very fortunate to be able to remain with their primary people.

Moose often visits from Boulder Creek.

Misconceptions – Bus Fare

There’s no place like home. Most of us genuinely and justifiably believe that our respective hometowns are very special. There is no doubt that they really are. We can get a bit overindulgent with such belief though. We tend to assume that social problems of all sorts are worse within our own Communities than they are in other Communities that we do not identify so much with.

No place is perfect. Most towns of significant population in America must contend with some degree of poverty, unemployment and homelessness nowadays. Even more contend with some degree of crime. Addiction has become an epidemic. Mental illness continues to proliferate. Conservatives blame liberals. Liberals blame conservatives. Lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!

To make matters worse, some believe that other Communities, both near and far, send the less fortunate of their respective societies here. Such Communities supposedly compel those who benefit from their generosity and willingness to assume the expenses of travel, to board airplanes, trains and buses to Felton. Communities within minimal proximity purportedly use Uber.

So, . . . where are they? Where are all those who arrived at the train station or airport here in Felton from somewhere else? Where are the airport and train station? Of those who ride local buses or use Uber, who got just one of their fares paid by another municipality who wanted them to leave? We are acquainted with all of the less fortunate here. These are simple questions.

When we help someone from here get to somewhere else, it is only because of some sort of opportunity at the destination, such as employment or a domestic situation. If the less fortunate of other Communities come here, it is likely for the same reasons. They are now likely employed and living in homes.

Frio de Ausencia

‘Cold of Absence’. That is the direct translation. Is sounds prettier in Spanish, perhaps alluringly exotic. In reality, it is a sad song of unrequited love, composed by Gali Galeano of Columbia in 1981. I knew none of that until I looked it up online a moment ago. I knew ‘Frio de Ausencia’ only as the name of a tired old Chevrolet on a farm I worked on after I graduated high school.

No one knows why it was named ‘Frio de Ausencia’. I asked. The name was painted in black letters across the front of the gray hood. It makes no more sense to me all these years later than it did then. I do miss it though. It was such a simple and somehow stylish old pickup, at a time when contemporary vehicles innately lacked such qualities. It did anything we needed it to do.

I went off to college and never saw Frio de Ausencia again. A young man whom I worked with, who was a few years older than I was at the time, took it with him when he relocated to Gilroy. Everyone else I worked with there that summer is now deceased. The farm was developed into a tract of homes, where many more people are now enjoying their respective place and time.

In this place and time, here and now, absence is something we often notice. It is not necessarily cold though. Over the years, some of us have relocated for employment or more comfortable domestic situations. Some of us who are still here are too busy with resumption of careers and domestic lifestyles to socialize like we did when we lacked to some degree in such obligations.

As much as we might miss our friends, and notice their absence, it is gratifying to know that they are generally much happier and healthier than they were before improving their respective situations. Such absence is a tolerable consequence of progress. As silly as it might seem to those unfamiliar with our society, we would rather notice their absence than enjoy their presence.

Apologies for the delay of posting an article this week. It became necessary to postpone the topic I started writing about.

Workday Update from October 19

Finally! The flowering crabapple in front of Felton Presbyterian Church is properly pruned! It is a bit early in autumn for such pruning, and the pruning is a bit more severe than it should have been, but it is finally done! The tree should bloom well in spring, and grow normally through summer. It is what I concentrated on, but is really only one of several workday projects.

Most of the work involved maintenance and cleaning of the facilities, which must be done even when all goes well in the minimal landscape. A big refrigerator from Taylor Hall was brought outside where it was defrosted and cleaned. Cobwebs were brought down. Debris from the trees was blown and removed. A skylight was repaired. There were quite a few chores on the list.

The most unusual task, which was added to the original list, was the cleaning of the darkened dusty spots on the insulated ceiling of Taylor Hall. No one really knows how they got there, or what to do about them, or even what the strange insulation of the ceiling consists of. Ultimately, after washing was found to be impractical, a distinctly dusty patch was effectively vacuumed.

The few remaining cypress trees between the north boundary of the parking lot and A&W still need significant work. It would not be practical to prune them completely, since they will likely be removed as they succumb to disease within the next few years. However, lower growth that is either obtrusive to adjacent parking spaces, or just plain unsightly, should be pruned away.

It is a significant project that I could use some help with during the next workday.

The next work day has not yet been scheduled. I hope to be informed about it soon enough to write about it here.