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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.

4 Comments:

Blogger Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft said...

You feel about locusts like I feel about the Los Angeles beloved jacarnada tree. (Well, I'm sure they bloom in other parts of the country and world also, but I'm from L.A., and you know how self-centered we are!)

Every year I drive down the street and literally let out a gasp of air as my neighbor's normally pretty yard is transformed into a glorious purple carpet.

I'd LOVE a jacaranda tree myself, but my husband says they stain too much. I don't care. Like your locust holes, let the stains outlive me. They're worth it!

Here's a link to my favorite tree (but I'm sure you know what they are already. Will have to cut and paste. Sorry.)

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=jacaranda+tree&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=9HQtSs26HpTOtAOjm7D1Cg&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&resnum=4&ct=title

And finally, I think I found you in searching for the Motel 6 corporate headquarters. I write for Good Housekeeping and just love me a great blog when I find one. Lovely writing you have! I'll be back.

Andrea

4:34 PM  
Blogger tpf said...

We have a Sassafras tree in our back yard. It's offspring will outlive the nuclear winter. Every spring, summer and fall we try to control it's numerous saplings. They don't pull up nice like the maples. They break off - so next season we get to beak them off again, and again, and again...

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To kill black locust you have to girdle it. Definitely do not just cut it down- as you noted it will send out root suckers.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Tom,
My nemesis is the buckthorn. I can't tell you how perforated my gloves were before I moved away from the northern Illinois home I grew up in. Now, I'm sad to say, my dad fights them alone. He doesn't have the good sense to move. No blossoms, or any other redeeming qualities, either.

Enjoy you on WWDTM.

Chris M.

9:41 PM  

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