I Think That I Shall Never See

A few "facts" about our famous Larch Trees

Every so often, I try to stop thinking about my own petty, emotional problems and try and focus on life's big existential ones: such as dread, hopelessness and death. And how these feelings suddenly stopped the minute I walked out of Transformers 3.

But when that stuff subsided, I looked outward and wondered about Mother Nature's handiwork. How does she, for instance, create something wondrous and beautiful, like our local Larch Trees? And then turn around and give us a guy like Josh Groban? 

I mean, you hear him sing "Vincent," and you're right back to hopelessness again.

Still, I recently looked up some information about the aforementioned Larchmont trees and I thought I'd share it with you.

The Larch is tall and wispy, and in winter, "looks like it is dead." A description that works for most conifers, not to mention several members of The Rolling Stones. Yet, as with the Stones, these looks are deceiving, for these Larches are mostly healthy and vital.

These "forlorn looking" trees are worth watching though, because when the seasons change, they, too, change colors radically. However, these Larches have a touch of low self-esteem; so if you don't like the colors, they've been known to quickly change back.

How often can you see that? I mean, without the help of pharmaceuticals?

In the fall, the needles of the Larch turn golden-yellow, before dropping to the ground, while new ones take their place. This is a poignant sight. Although it is sometimes, incorrectly, referred to as the "Needle Exchange Program."

The original Larches, you might not know, seem to have come from Scotland, around 1797. Peter Jay Munro, who lived in the Manor House, asked his Scottish gardener to plant trees that might "screen the house" from both the road, as well as prying eyes. The gardener complied, but not before telling Munro that he shouldn't be ashamed if anyone caught him practicing his "spirit fingers."

Regardless, the gardener had Larch seeds sent from Scotland, knowing that the trees they'd grow into were famously hearty. The first group planted nearly died due to improper care and feeding. But once the gardener stopped giving them haggis three times a day, those Larches perked right up.

Some of these original trees are still extant, meaning they are over 200 years old. Again, make a Rolling Stones reference here if you need to.

Larchmont itself was not given its current name until about 50 years later. This seems to have been done by one Edward Knight Collins, who later purchased the Manor House and ultimately named the parcel. He first tried to give the area a really simple name. But most folks thought calling the village, "Bill," was just a little too plain. So Larchmont it became.

You might notice other varieties of Larch trees in the Village, but these are more likely to be non-native and Asian species, trying to pass themselves off as typical Larches. Though, the dead giveaway is usually these trees are wearing fake nose and glasses. 

The only two "native North American species of Larches," are the eastern larch (or "tamarack") and the western larch (or "Hat Rack"). Apparently, the Eastern Larch only thrives in tough, boggy terrain and isn't suited as a suburban lawn tree. Of course, owners who have wrapped it in a Lacoste shirt and tennis hat are probably not giving this tree the leeway it needs.

Maybe the best trait of our beloved Larches is that they have been found to really process carbon dioxide efficiently. And planted in large (larch?) numbers, might actually be able to significantly reverse the "Greenhouse Effect." Of course, these trees are hip to this now and, as a result, they're getting awfully self-important.

I mean, we're willing to sing your praises, Larches. But writing you a theme song? That's really pushing it. Don't you think?

Ralph July 22, 2011 at 10:50 AM
Thanks. A pleasure to read.


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