By Joe Timmerman
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe,” John Muir, a transcendentalist, wrote of nature’s connectedness in his 1911 book, My First Summer in the Sierra.
In 1997, Nature journal published ecologist Suzanne Simard’s Ph.D. theses, describing newfound proof of how plants within communities can be interconnected through an underground system, called a mycorrhizal network, to interact with each other.
This is Part 2 of a series Loveland resident and Ohio University student, Joe Timmerman wrote for The Post in Athens, Ohio. The Post is an award-winning, student-run media outlet that publishes online daily and also prints a weekly tabloid. They cover local and Ohio University news, sports, Athens life, entertainment and everything in between. The series is re-published here in Loveland Magazine with permission of The Post and Loveland High School graduate, Joe Timmerman a frequent contributor to Loveland Magazine.
“All trees all over the world, including paper birch and Douglas fir, form a symbiotic association with below-ground fungi … They compete with each other, but our work shows that they also cooperate with each other by sending nutrients and carbon back and forth through mycorrhizal networks,” Simard said in an interview with Yale Environment 360.
In this sense, trees communicate with one another on a deeper level than what is seen in the overstory and the understory of a forest.
From mothers and fathers sharing memories of trees they have grown to love with their kids to a lifelong woodworker who discovered a new relationship with wood as time went by, people are connecting with nature in new and old ways, as COVID-19 has brought a global feeling of social disconnection. People and their trees alike have a story to be told.
Phil Ping, 62, and his dog, Bandit, of Loveland, Ohio, with his logs and boards of Maple, Oak, Walnut, Pine on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. (Photo by Joe Timmerman © 2020)
Phil Ping and his dog, Bandit, of Loveland, Ohio, with his logs and boards of maple, oak, walnut and pine. Ping has been a full-time woodworker for 35 years and has lived in his home for the same amount of time. The wood in the foreground are boards and slabs he cut from the logs that now have to air dry for one year per one-inch thickness before Ping will make them into tables, benches, shelves and more.
“The wood in the piles here are just waiting for their project,” Ping said. “Most of the wood I use in my built-in projects is from Paxton Lumber in Cincinnati. I use a lot of poplar, oak and maple. I use a sawmill to custom-cut local wood from dead trees that people bring by the shop. It’s been a great business to be in. Wood is a wonderful thing. I have a degree in agriculture, but I started in botany, so I’ve always loved plants and trees and have a real appreciation for trees and different species. When I first got my sawmill, it really changed my whole attitude for trees, so now not only do I love the outside, but I started to take them apart and learn how to use them in my craft. It’s been an ongoing relationship knowing how to handle the wood from the log all the way to the finished piece that I would sell to a client.”
Part 3 will introduce you to Iris Wilson of Hamilton Township, Ohio, with her pin oak tree. Wilson takes care of her dad, who still lives in this farmhouse.