Our Lives Concurrent for 58 Years
Until the Hurricane, Blast Hole Pond Road, Newfoundland 2010


medium: a cross-section from each of 22 spruce and fir trees that were felled by Hurricane Igor on September 21, 2010, arranged according to the trees' positions in the forest. (Completed in collaboration with ecologist Dr. Andrew Trant.)
dimensions: variable.

I have been living and working in a six-acre patch of boreal forest in Portugal Cove since 2002. On September 21, 2010, Hurricane Igor felled quite a few of the trees that I live in the midst of. Some were blown over in their entirety, roots and all; the trunks of others were twisted so much they cracked and broke off.
    As a way to engage with the loss, and to learn more about this patch of old-growth forest, I wanted to find out how old the fallen trees were. Ecologist Andrew Trant used a powerful microscope to date the cross-sections, which were cut from the stumps of the fallen trees.
    The most surprising thing I learned was that the diameters of the trees were not relative to their ages. For example, two trees that were the same age (ninety-six years old) were very different sizes: the cross-section of one is 9 inches at its widest diameter, and the other is only 3 inches. The smaller tree was growing on top of the Tolt — a rocky hill where it was much more exposed. Those identified as being “over” a certain age are trees that had heart rot — a fungal disease that causes decay in tree trunks — resulting in some uncountable missing tree-rings.
    None of the trees that were lost were younger than I was at the time (fifty-eight years old). I was thinking about the fact that they had been standing throughout my lifetime — our lives had been concurrent — until the day of the hurricane.
Marlene Creates, 2017