Stumps I have Known

I love trees, not in a huggy save the planet, the trees are more important than people kind of way but in a OMG they are so beautiful and amazing and I love to look at them kind of way. This extends to the remains of trees aka stumps. If you have read my past missives you will have seen pictures of stumps and my comments. This revisits some of those from a different angle I hope and also introduces some new ones. Truth is I was getting so far behind with my pictures (cos I take them every day but don’t blog every day) that I needed a new approach for a while to give me chance to catch up with my bad self. So for the next few posts it won’t be the account of visiting one place but more thematic and today’s theme is stumps!


This is an oldie from Squint Lake walks, but I cropped closer to show the multicolours in the picture, the purple leaves bottom right and the red in the crown, most of all the striations in the trunk itself, I did a closer still crop to show those.


Greens and browns and a very dark brown almost black, it looks like that streak has been burned but not sure how anyone could just burn that strip right in the middle.

The park I have been visiting most often recently, mainly because Etta drinks sea water and that gives her an unpleasant reaction so I limit her time there, is Warner Loat Park next to Burnaby Lake. It has a well sized enclosed off-leash area with logs and tress and space to run and jump and chase balls, and things for the dogs to do too. I am always amazed by the drinking water facilities for both humans and dogs in all these parks. Remind me to take a pic and show you.


This is one of the logs and I have pictures of Etta and her friends walking along and jumping it and the others around the place. They also make nice seats for the times she is sniffing and padding and I pull out my kobo to read. Am including this in the stump review because it is ex-tree and put to a marvellous use amid the gravel and mud and grass. Whilst walking around I found this tucked away out of sight.


The greenery behind it faces the path and it was only because Etta delights in depositing off the beaten track and I was picking up that I found it. She is a very clever dog who obviously knows how much I love things like this. It was so beautiful, a skirt of green and white enthroning the short stump.


And this moss was crowning it, into the crevices and dips caused by the decaying wood. I named this picture Metropolis because it looks like a sprawling city across the top, one that will only increase in size and complexity as time goes on. Or so it seems to me anyway.

I am about to cheat a little.


Neither this picture nor the next are actually of stumps.


There are many trees in the park and I was photographing something else entirely when I noticed the bark and moss and mould on this tree. Is it any wonder I have such a fascination with things that harbour and nurture so much life, let alone purify our air. The way the different organisms live in harmony, working together, not complaining that the mould is hitching a ride on the growing tree, nor that the moss is growing in the wrinkly bark. They just get on with it. I know sometimes things go awry and trees die overwhelmed by the parasitic growths but that is the exception rather than the rule. Mostly they just get on together doing their jobs and living their lives.

Enough philosophising, time for some whimsy. As well as the dog enclosure is a very pretty park to walk through, quaint bridges over dry creeks and a kind of Japanese looking arch on which a raven or crow taunted me by standing still til I pulled out my camera, but my focus is an actual stump.


Like a maiden awaiting her moment – skirt spread, hair done and the sun just peeping over the nearby trees to illuminate her. Blackberries around the base, gonna be delicious walking Etta come the Autumn. She even has a broken hearted swain already at her feet.

You may recall a holey stump from Squint. Here is a close up of it.


Gorgeous, but I went a step further because there are two sides to this picture. (Possibly more but I am sticking with two)


This is the punk rock side complete with green hair. I am obsessed with the texture of wood, bumpy and smooth, gnarled and somehow exquisite. I imagine not everyone shares my obsession and that’s fine, but take a closer look next time you see a tree, let your fingers run over the bark, feel it and enjoy the wonder for a few moments. Here is the other side of that hole.



See what I mean about two sides? they could be two different organisms when you look closely. If you doubt me, I left the small patch of moss on both top left and top right. Course, whimsical me wonders how that hole came to be. Suggestions on a postcard – or in the comments please.

On to Barnet, I make no apology for including two old stumps. Both out in the water and rotting well. Again I recropped and have zoomed in on some interesting aspects.


As I think I mentioned before, these two are rooted not afloat and I wondered how and why, since than I have noticed that when the tide is out they look like they could have slipped down the banks, maybe erosion or very rough high tides. This one is magnificent, green mossy algae encroaching from the roots, the trunk hollow and who knows what I would find in there. The reflection in the rippled water to the bottom right makes a nice feature I think.


Here’s the other, a veritable underwater garden around its roots.


Closer view of whatever lifeform is crawling up the side from the water. It came from the abyss…. Fascinating that two tree trunks in the same water can be undergoing such different processes of decay. They are barely a stones throw apart.


This one isn’t hollow and you can see the broken heart of the tree, maybe that break in the heartwood will allow the decomposition that will ultimately hollow it out to begin. Will be interesting to observe.

The last time we met this stump I was concentrating on the variety of colours in it and the other aspects of the picture. Today I am all about texture.


First look I see slime, that wood would feel slick and smooth under my fingers, but below the water logged top layer is another. Nicks, bumps, places where the wood has been scored by collisions and its travel through the water. The colours are still there of course and add depth to the impression I get, I didn’t get chance to touch, it was too far from the shore but I can imagine and hope you can too.

These final few pictures are from the beach at the far end of Drummond Walk, it is guarded from easy access by stumps. You have to clamber down and over to get to the sand and pebbles but once you do the beach is also strewn with driftwood.


This is the entrance (and exit as Etta demonstrates) there are clear ways down between the logs and slabs of stone but you need a steady foot or absolute daring like the dog. 

The stump on the left is my focus right now. I spent two mornings in steady rain walking Etta, it was fabulous to be honest, the trees and sea I love so much have completely different (but equally lovable) aspects in the misty rain.


See that puddle cradled in the trunk? Look closer and you can see ripples in the water as rain drips onto it. I didn’t even see that til I got home and was looking through my pictures. I am so blind sometimes. The tangle of roots on the right was what actually captured my attention and I was trying to get a shot across them and down the beach.



Here’s Etta looking suspiciously at something. She had the oddest reaction to some of this driftwood, refusing to move, skittering away, I was worried the Kraken had been unleashed and we were in deep doodoo. I never did work out what she was worried about but I would have been worried about her if she had prowled towards me like that, she has never looked more wolf-like. The stump behind her to the left is stunning, I have no idea how that loop happened but you can see from the bottom it is all one piece.



This made me feel like I was on a tropical island, it was a gloriously sunny day and I was perched on a concrete block reading and snapping as the mood took me and this was just lovely. The dappling shadow of the leaves sun and shade, the curve of the trunk, the lapping of the waves and the silence, no traffic, no people, no noise.


This is the close up of the right hand curve of the stump above. Feast your eyes on those rings, the grooves, the texture. How old was that tree when it fell? Where did it come from, what changes did it see? Now lying on a beach, soaking the sun and sea and rain. I love love love it.


Etta seemed to be impressed too. That branch above her needs a hammock… and a pina colada perched on the stump.

I began with a solitary majestic stump and am finishing with one. Once again you may have seen it before and if not – go read my other blogs.


Early morning sunlight on another metropolis, Stumpham? the tiers that seem cut into the bark look like a path winding around to guide you to the upper levels where the plants growing tall are the habitations of those who dwell there. Probably ants and beetles and spiders and other insects but if I were an insect that looks like a pretty sweet place to live.

 I hope you have enjoyed my rambling wander around stumps I have glimpsed and loved. Let me know if you have developed a new appreciation for this last stage in the life-cycle of a tree or if I am completely barking mad

 Thanks for reading.

Jules xx


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