Circular Argument

Fence Post
Fence Post

At this time of the year, any amount of tidying up is going on around here. The verges are trimmed, the hedges are knocked back into shape and fences that have just been a disjointed, pointless conversation are given a new lease of communication. One part of our walk today sported a sparkling new section of fence, replacing the drooping, occasional strands of barbed wire that we’d become accustomed to. We had to stop and admire it. We followed it back to where, via an age blackened, robust corner post, it became integrated with the larger community of fence wires.

We couldn’t resist the newly-sawn tops of the fence posts and stopped and counted the rings in several of them. They, mostly, seem to have been felled when they were about eight or ten years old. No, having just done a little reading on dendrochronology, let me rephrase that, there seem to be eight or ten rings on most of the posts.

It isn’t just the rings, you see. Some years could have no discernible ring and it’s even possible to have two rings in one year. An average ring shows lighter, softer wood that relates to the early part of the year when the tree is doing most of its growing, and a darker part that relates to the part of the year when growth slows and stops.

If you think about it this means that the tree grows just underneath the bark. No wonder you have to remove the bark to stop fence posts turning into trees.

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