Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Old Lady Linden

At the end of our last post I mentioned a hundreds year old linden. It's a beautiful tree that stands next to a path going through the vast fields near our village. We don't know how old it is, but it must be important to someone other than us because there is a cross next to it. In Ukraine, this usually means that something is significant.

We have more questions than we do answers about it. How old is it? How did it get into the middle of such a wide open field? Why are there no other lindens around? Did there used to be a forest here? If so, is this all that remains? Why was just this one tree left behind? ...Or did someone plant the tree a long time ago? Why did they choose this spot?

Aside from its beauty and sheer size, the other thing that attracted us to this tree was an enormous fallen limb that we noticed while exploring the thicket from the last post. We're doing our best to collect all of our own firewood this year, and, after finding this linden, we're doing a pretty good job! The dirt path was too muddy the first day we drove out to try and collect some firewood, so we had to wait for drier weather.

That's our truck on the crest of the hill. We had a hard enough time making it that far through the mud, and since the last hill was the biggest and steepest, we decided to wait. That patch of bushes on the right is the thicket from our last post.
After a few days we gave it another go. I'm glad I made sure Yulia's dad helped because, in all, we got two truckloads of wood out this fallen branch, and it was a lot of work. When you look at it, it seems that the fallen branch is just sitting there waiting for you to take it, but in reality it takes hard work, forethought, and coordination to cut it up and haul it away. The branch was unstable in many places. We had to make sure that when we started cutting, the chainsaw wouldn't get caught in between the two branches as they settled under their own weight.

While we chopped and sawed, Yulia spent her time collecting sloe, which grows along the paths next to the linden. It's best to collect it after a few frosts--otherwise it will contain a lot of tannins and make your mouth feel sucked dry when you eat it. Similar to an unripe persimmon.

It's nice to travel here just for the view. When conditions are right and the air is clear, it's possible to see the Carpathian mountains from here. Not on this trip though, but still a great view!

Some of it was easy work--nice, fat pieces of wood waiting to be plucked and taken away.

Other times we needed to stop, think, and scratch our heads before making the next cut.

A random skull we found made for good photos.

The harvest was good...

...both fruit and wood!

We found this birch on another excursion. The wood is so beautiful that I don't think Yulia wants to actually use it as firewood! Makes a better prop!
The linden branch has had some time to cure, so it's good to burn right away--though a few pieces could still use some time to dry. To be sure, linden is a softwood, so it won't burn as hot as ash or oak, but we find it gets the job done. We basically followed what this firewood website says about linden (referred to as basswood on the site):

I would not turn down a free load of basswood firewood.  The real decision is how much effort should you put in to cutting, splitting and stacking the wood if it's not free and already processed.
I hate to see any tree just rot in the woods especially if I can find a use for it.  If the tree is already down, easy to get to and still in good shape I'll cut it up and burn it.  
That was our situation. The limb has been down for some time, and it's right next to the road.

I find that it burns well and produces a wonderful aroma. I can even smell it outside.

That's our woodpile (pre-linden). The linden filled in the remaining space here. On the left are some ash branches that we bought from a neighbor for five dollars in the spring. On the bottom right is the cherry we found in the thicket, and above that is an acacia that should be cured--just a little wet on top from rain. We have a whole other wood pile about the same size next to this made of freshly fallen wood. We'll let that cure for a little before using it. 

Thank you, old lady Linden! May you live for many more years to come!