Monday, June 01, 2009
Black Locust Bloom
The black locust trees are in bloom this week. The air is sweet with it. They are the last trees around here to bud and leaf out. They are a confounded tree top to bottom. The wood is so impervious to rot and pests that it can be used as if it were chemically treated. Better than creosote many claim. It is the preferred wood for fences and posts of all kinds and there are lots of popular bromides about it. "Locust lasts one year longer than rock". "A locust post will last longer than the hole you put it in." I especially like that one. Shortly after we bought this land I went looking for the property corners to properly mark them. Like surveyors. Not like dogs. The survey for the place was made in the 1880's and the boundaries mostly followed an old stone wall. All except one corner. The map said it was marked by a locust post. I looked and looked all through the bramble and brush and gave up day after day. But I was determined to find it and went down one last time vowing not to return until I found the post. And I did -- laying on the ground sound as a dollar and with no hole in sight. Lasted longer than the hole they put it in.
I spend half my time in our woods admiring the locust and the other half trying to kill it. It spreads in a variety of hideous ways and for the first many years of a black locust's life it is covered with nasty thorns. Clearing locust is blood sport. I have a six inch cut across my belly where one particularly tough customer tried to fight me off. I bested it in the end, but there is a scar. Locust will spread by sending out roots that pop up anywhere they please. Cut it off and it sends a different one somewhere else. Black locust will even hide in your luggage and take root in the cracks of sidewalks at your next airport. Okay, I made that part up, but it wouldn't surprise me to see a locust shoot coming at me from under the taxi stand at O'Hare on Thursday.
Where was I going with all this? Oh yeah. The locust trees are in bloom this week. It's a very pretty smell. And it will outlive me.