Wow! What a year this has been. Work here has continued non-stop, 7-days a week. With few exceptions the chores have been directly related to mess Katrina left behind. The Christmas of 2005 came and went. It was hardly even noticed. Cleanup continued straight through the Holidays. Chainsaws roared and fires blazed. And those plumes of smoke carried Katrina further and further into the past; and none too soon.
But life goes on. So, in an effort to streamline things here at Shady Pond, this will be the final year for the PAPER version of Shady Pond News. In the future the tree farm's newsletter will be provided in electronic form only. Most of you know that the conversion process was put in place some time ago when we began collecting e-mail addresses. The address list has grown to a significant size and the move to e-mail can now be made. Admittedly, Katrina has helped things along by emphasizing the fact that electronic communication is possible regardless of the recipient's geographic location. So, please help us keep the guest list accurate by including your current, and hopefully permanent, e-mail address.
Many of you forward Shady Pond News to relatives in other parts of the country. And the fact that you do so is very flattering so please continue. Just do it by e-mail. The newsletter electronic files are designed to be small with graphics being loaded by the Verio servers once the file is opened. So transit time is short. Or, just print a copy and send it by USPS.
It is Christmas time once again. For many last Christmas got lost in the piles of rubble, the FEMA trailers, and the gutted houses; so this one will be extra special. And we hope to see each of you again this year.
Shady Pond Tree Farm
Christmas Tree Varieties:
a stately beauty from England.
Leighton Green, Castlewellan, Silver Dust
a unique tree from the Orient.
a selection from New Zealand.
the aroma of lemon and mint.
from the western Himalayas with silver needles.
a southern Christmas tradition.
the memories of Christmas past.
Even though some claimed that Shady Pond was an ‘oasis' in a desert of debris, last winter was extra bleak.
The burn piles I had built seemed to be everywhere. There were 15 in all. The smaller ones were as big as a house. The larger ones approached the size of a small church. Burn time was measured in days, not hours.
Mother Nature had taken away many of the things we all had come to know; familiar things that gave us comfort and reassurance. But as the days of cleanup past I found myself noting, that Live Oak was poorly shaped because of the tree that used to be next to it. Or, this Black Cherry now has a perfect spot and will flourish with less competition.
When spring came Mother Nature continued her demonstration of truly unchallenged power. The drought was severe. But in spite of the lack of rain growth was intense. It was really quite a paradox. Native trees replaced branches and foliage in record time. Christmas trees were growing at a rate not seen in years. And of course; the grass grew, and grew, and grew...not a happy situation.
I was having difficulty understanding these events. Clearly Mother Nature takes away but then gives back. And given the loss of so many trees, the excess grass growth was a result of the increased sunlight reaching the ground. But the unbelievable growth of the Christmas trees could not be attributed to the distribution of sunlight.
Then I realized, it was the fires. Ancient knowledge tells us that burning releases nutrients trapped in plant material making them available to still other plants. And the constant burning, not only at Shady Pond but throughout the area, had spread nutrient laden ash over the land and the plantlife loved it.
Mother Nature had gone from one extreme to the other; from ruthless to merciful, from destructive to beneficial. She is truly fickle and represents her gender well.
Will's plan was to do the filming in October. But Katrina brought progress to a screeching, grinding halt.
After a few months of regrouping, Will arrived at Shady Pond in early March with the entire cast and crew to film the farm scenes for Seizure. It was the first day of work complete with all the expected chaos. The group settled down in a reasonable time though and ended the day with measurable forward progress.
The old red Cub was quite a hit; along with the Leylands, of course. Not a single frame of film was shot that day without the 40-year old tractor in it.
Seizure will be part of the Sundance Film Festival in the near future. It was one of a half-dozen films being shot in ‘Hollywood South' at the same time.
Building damage at Shady Pond was comparatively light but there was some. The cottage lost the awning over the porch and shingles off the roof. Actually, the demise of the awning was a rather pleasant consequence of the storm. It was awful, even on the day it was first installed. Instead of replacing it, the roof was reshaped to cover the porch.
But the roof renovation quickly became just like the repair projects that most of you faced. It was like opening Pandora's box. When the rework finally ended the list of repairs included rerouting of incoming and outgoing electrical cables, new soffit events, new exterior lighting, enhanced system grounding, new door hardware, exterior cleaning and repainting, window re-glazing, new window screens, and a new roof of course; which was the task that started the whole thing. Nonetheless, the building needed all that was done. And only a small portion was covered by insurance as you would expect.
Now the building next to the cottage had been converted into a hot house some 40-years ago. Daddy used it to protect his more delicate plants during the winter months and spent many cold winter days in the building refining his horticultural skills. But Katrina did serious damage to the hot house. She removed the translucent fiberglass panels from the roof almost completely and collapsed a brick gable wall on its north end. This building needs major work.
But, the hot house had a prior life that has now been made famous by Christine Wiltz and The Last Madam. In truth, the building was erected by Norma Wallace as a place to do business in. It was originally configured for one and only one purpose; a brothel. It had two bedrooms, very high windows, a dual faced fireplace, and a single bath. And I have promised the ghosts that remain there that they will continue to have a house to haunt. So, work on Norma's brothel has begun.
With concept by Mike Buchart of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, title by Beth Walterscheidt President of the National Christmas Tree Association, observations by Clarke Gernon, Jr., and sawmilling by Mark Cantrell and the Bruder Family neighbors of Shady Pond; a single tree was saved from Katrina's burn piles and preserved in print and as a living legacy. Read THE GIVING TREE as seen by the writers of the American Christmas Tree Journal.
Tree Removal Bag