November – Attack of the Hackmatack

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”    Camus


Or needle in some cases.  It is often the only color you can see lately.

I found this lovely poem by chance during a search for hackmatack and made me realize how the history can shine a light on the present that creates more clarity.  I can see where we came from and how we are still connected to then.  I felt the whole line of history, of how things have changed and yet not so much.  The hackmatack is still standing proud and can be viewed or used for building as needed.  It was around when Walt Whitman was writing and now I am writing about it.


The hackmatack, also known as the tamarack from the Algonquin Indians is ubiquitous this time of year.  They used it to make  snowshoes as it is a tough wood also used for posts, poles and knees in wooden boats.  It can survive to -65.  This is one tough tree so obviously it is also found up north.  But it must also be flexible if it can be made into these things.  It is the best of both worlds which makes it the perfect poster child for November.  Again today I was driving some back roads and had long views and it was the only thing visible among the leafless and evergreen background.   It is also known as larix laricina.  How exotic.

This is just the tree I need to motivate me at this time of year.  If it can handle such cold temperatures I can handle up to – 20 or whatever we will get this winter.  It is predicted to be quite warm as it will be an El Nino winter and warmer than usual.

This tree is also in the larch family.  On the way to work today on the highway that I drive on it predominated.  There were a few leafy trees still holding on to their yellowing parchment but the hackmatack was everywhere still standing proud and tall among the evergreen.  I couldn’t help but notice its burnt yellow to rusty needles standing out at all angles as it is not nearly as neat and tidy as a spruce or fir.  In its prime lately it almost lights up bronze and beckoning.  There is always something every season.

Sometimes it seems to thumb its nose at the conformist trees as it sticks out at odd angles.  It can look spindly and sparse like the last tree on the Christmas tree lot that Charlie Brown would have been stuck with.

Still who can’t love its nice golden glow much needed in the dark month of November when most other tree leaves have fallen.  It is a beacon on the road and motivation on the long road in.

It is so strange that  I found the poem above about the broad axe and cutting of trees as just this very day I was in a bookstore and overheard a conversation.  This guy has a lumberjack colouring book out now besides his camp for kids and adults learning axe throwing and log rolling and other lumberjack techniques.  He had a famous TV personality come down to Barrington which I almost got to but not quite.  They have a mill and meeting house I wanted to see.  This location is perfect for those coming on the ferry from the US.

So check out his Facebook page.  I had seen log rolling, high and low tree cutting etc.  on TV but didn`t even know it happened here and this guy has won many log rolling championships.  He sure didn`t dress like a lumberjack.  He seemed to have some style and animation.  Interesting.  You never know.

This is the time of year I no longer sit in the setting sun out back and read.  I have mostly come inside and think in the early dark after the time change.  I listen to music and it becomes a time of more writing which started two years ago and was saved long form and continued until nearly six months ago when I started this blog which was a different form of writing and thinking with pictures.  I was thinking it may be a book and recently I went back and looked at  a November posting and here is some of what I found and liked.  It is a time to figure things out but it becomes harder to make changes as it becomes colder and darker.

http://Destination Unknown So it all began on a Sunday morning drive into the city for a job I didn’t quite like though it could be argued they’d been kinder to me than others. It was a failing industry like many and others had not favored so well. One could sense the crumbs lessening and I wondered exactly how it would all shake down. I predicted the place could be closed within the year but like many things you never knew. One day all was well and then boom, change struck like a typhoon flattening everything in its path. We had few natural disasters to worry about but plenty of man-made ones in  a view point they were all based on greed and selfishness and short-sightedness as to how the future would unfold. If you can’t do it for mankind or even do it to principles (mostly now hidden in non-read bibles) or a future spawn or even from some altruism hidden deep within then what hope did we have.

At the moment I didn’t see much nor did I feel
much happiness. In fact recently I saw a Hollywood starlet type on a talk show who said she had spent a month in Africa. “They’re much happier than us” she said and I believed it. We Western types think we should be the happiest and yet know deep down that something is missing. There was a time when people could go out and buy whatever, whenever but now that time is coming to an end. Still was it the peak or the beginning of the trough? You can think you’re on top when you’re quickly just sliding to the bottom. I was cruising to work on a cool November morning with its usual clouds mixed with just a tongue sticking out hint of sun. I had hit a channel I rarely did which was some 80’s mix and suddenly it came on and I was jolted into that time not to mention into the memory of a Fringe play I had done by the same name. The song was called Destination Unknown and it hovered on the outskirts of my memory bank like a scarcely remembered dream. I later played it on Youtube a few times only to find it worm its way inside my brain like a happy sage maggot trying to give me a message. The lyrics were great and I felt like I should have written them myself.

 I still feel it was one of those messages you get from time to time. Yes life is strange and my destination is unknown. Those were the main lyrics and I’m not sure which one was more meaningful. Or what came before what. I could completely agree with these sentiments. So the trick was to figure out what it meant. Why was life so strange and could it be normal again? If my destination was unknown was that a good thing or should I be on track like many were or at least thought they were

Truth as the destination is technically unknown for all of us. We can try to put many things in place but life will do what it wants to us especially now in this time of job insecurity, poor government and environmental change. Throw in poor family relations and drugs, etc and you have a recipe for a tsunami stew.

The tamarack glows gold to bronze and another tree turns its leave backwards and looks silver.  We are Olympic winners at this time of year.