Editor’s note: Adirondack Explorer board member Charlotte Hall wrote this poem about Tree 103. Believed to be one of the tallest trees in the state, Tree 103 toppled in December 2021 after spending its life as part of a group of giant white pines known as “Elder’s Grove,” near Paul Smith’s College’s Visitor Information Center (VIC).
I saw you, 103, oh great Elder Tree:
You were hurting, holding up your broken sister tree,
Straining silently in the summer’s heat.
A tiny tag told me your number, as if a number could be your name.
Some human helper hammered in the tiny 103,
But what name did you bear, unknown to me, oh great Elder Tree?
So many years of silent witness:
Humans cutting down your friends and family.
Then your little grove, spared the saw and reaching to the sky,
Growing old together, oh great Elder Tree.
But one by one the falls, with thunderous unheard sounds,
Brethren around your feet, jumbled on the forest floor,
And soon for you, 103, oh great Elder Tree.
As winter came, I read the dreadful news:
You were down, mighty though you be, oh great Elder Tree!
And in the snow I sought you out,
Jagged shards, fresh sheared and raw,
Your massive body covered in a shroud of white.
I stopped and listened but heard only winter’s moan,
You were silent in repose, 103, oh great Elder Tree.
I will come once more in summertime to touch your barky flank
And feel the moss and ferns that spring from you—death to life again.
Sleep in peace, and feed the forest well, your memory always in the soil—
Now free of 103, your journey starts anew, oh great Elder Tree.
—Charlotte Hall, Paul Smiths