I spent most of my first 40 years in the prairies or on the edge of the prairies. Prairies have trees but you plant them. And sometimes you water them. Or you go to the river valley to find trees. This is where prairie settlers found wood and where I expect to find forest. I associate trees, especially cottonwoods, with river valleys or with towns where people plant them and water them.
I’ve been dealing with the yard around my New England house. I am amazed at the trees. I have to beat them back! They grow everywhere without being planted, watered, or asked. Oak trees, maple trees, and brush grows with abandon.
I know enough of New England history to know that the forest has retaken the region after being cleared during early European settlement. My ancestors left New Hampshire in the 1800s as part of the general migration to the Midwest to find better farmland. I’ve seen Francestown, NH and I get it–it is a town that sits on a top of a hill and is now largely depopulated and surrounded, covered, or in the process of being covered by forest–all since my ancestors left to go to places where they had to plant and tend their trees around their Midwestern farmsteads.
I have been identifying with my ancestors who settled this land and lived here from the 1630s until the mid 1800s as I’ve worked on my New England lot. Along the border of my property–not a large lot–maple and oak saplings push through the brush. It has a certain wildness in it that can’t be cultivated or controlled.
I live in an area of forests unbounded. I think I have lost control.