Thursday, April 21, 2005

# 21 OLD TREES, NEW LUMBER

It’s finally happening. The window trim on the house is being re-painted. And although I have never been an activist in the tree-hugger category, I now know why we have to do something about trees.

My window trim is made from lumber from old trees. Very old trees. This house was old when we bought it. It has been here for more than fifty years, but despite that, the original window frames are still solid, still firm, still doing their job. The pioneers in this area tell me the lumber for this house came from a saw-mill in Canada’s northern wilderness in the fifties. Trees cut by hand and skidded with horses. These are window frames made from trees that grew in pristine forests, uninhabited by man, without acid rain, without rippers and heavy equipment rumbling around them.

They took in energy from the sun unhampered by a disturbed ozone layer or smog and gave off oxygen like they were supposed to. They were hale and hearty and undisturbed until they matured. And when eventually converted into the lumber that frames my windows, they have continued over all these years to reflect the well-being of their former life. They are healthy and resilient, unlike the new wooden frames on the more recent kitchen-add-on. These window frames are chipped, splintered, and when it rains, quite mushy.

I’ve spent a lifetime begging for new windows and window frames, but Hub has been adamant, "They no longer sell windows that can top those for being sturdy and workable." Now that I’m painting those window frames, seeing them close up, I can see that he is right!

But my deck. Shall we talk about my deck? It is made from more recent trees. Trees that may have been artificially grown in a replanted wood lot. Trees choked by pollution. Trees that were probably tampered with and tagged long before they were ready to be cut and made into lumber. Trees stressed in their childhood by having to daily watch while other trees were clear-cut and ruthlessly massacred. And the many decks Hub has built from those trees, exposed to the toxins and stresses of a modern age during their developmental period, rot consistently within four to five years. And the paint peels almost immediately despite assurances of longevity from the friendly-advice people at the local building store.

So what spawned today’s thoughts? Two things. One was my rethinking of Hub’s commitment to my old window frames. The other was a conversation with a friend who has only recently starting exploring the truths in her Bible. A few weeks ago we were having coffee when she said to me, "Roberta, did you know that in old-Bible-days people lived until they were 999 years old. How come our life span is only 75 or 80?"

I gave her the pat answer. "I think what we need to realize is that ‘time’ in old Biblical days was not measured the same. Obviously, it couldn’t have been because you know I believe in both God and an evolutionary creation (see post #285 THE EVOLUTIONIST AND CREATIONIST DEBATE – 11/23/2004) so I am convinced that creation took thousand’s of years rather than a week."

She laughed. "I prefer to take the Bible at its word. I think the people mentioned did live that long. It IS possible if you think about it. These were people born prior to any toxic pollutants poisoning the air. There were no factories, smoke stacks, sprays, chemicals, exhaust fumes, or cigarette smoke in the air. There were no refuse piles of burning rubber, and no chemical and sewage dumped in lakes and rivers. There was just crystal clear spring waters and oxygen that was pure and clean and abundant. Plants had no herbicides; animals no growth hormones or antibiotics. People breathing that kind of air and drinking that kind of water, and eating that kind of organic food could easily have lived that long."

I laughed heartily, but at the same time I had to admit such reasoning did make as much sense as the calendar-time theory. Just because I never heard this interpretation before, is not to say that she is wrong. She might be right. It’s quite possible. And it’s quite possible that this same theory is what keeps my old window frames in such good condition despite the badly peeled paint.

‘Nuff said for now. The painting must continue.

3 Comments:

Blogger Eleanor said...

My house is twice the age of yours, so I'm well acquainted with the marvellous qualities of old wood. I always put it down to the fact that the carpenters of yore selected their trees carefully, and took more pride in their craftsmanship, but your theory certainly makes sense, too. :) Trees used for lumber in this day and age have known little in the way of respect or proper nurturing. Humans growing up in that way have little strength and resilience, so why would trees be any different?

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Dick said...

My pal Geoff built his house in White Rock, B.C. out of various woods & when I visited him 10 years ago I spent ages just walking around & running hands over the different surfaces. Here the architecture is anodyne in the extreme - pre-cast concrete & nearly all windows uPVC. Hideous...

5:21 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Eleanor, I appreciate that there is someone else in this world that takes my theories to heart.

Thanks for stopping in Dick. I'm not sure I understand your comment but I'm thinking that the house is too much a mix of purist stuff and artificial stuff? Is that why it is hideous?

9:25 AM  

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