1. “Woodman, Spare That Tree!”
    By George Pope Morris

    Woodman, spare that tree!
     Touch not a single bough!
    In youth it sheltered me,
     And I'll protect it now....
    My heart-strings round thee cling,
     Close as thy bark, old friend!
    Here shall the wild-bird sing,
     And still thy branches bend.
    Old tree! the storm still brave!
     And, woodman, leave the spot;
    While I've a hand to save,
     thy axe shall harm it not.

  2. Once the laws about having to have a permit to cut down trees was rescinded, either in Florida or just in Pinellas County (I assume under-the-table payments from developers), all the latent lumberjacks in our subdivision – ironically named Tarpon WOODS – came out in their full glory. Because two lovely (and healthy) long-leaf pines were abruptly cut down next door (along with every other tree in the yard), we are no longer visited by pileated woodpeckers, which were a highlight of my day.

    Of course, this has changed the environment for MY yard and landscaping, too, bringing in sun where shade plants had been happily growing since the1980s.

    Another neighbor cut down HIS lovely long-leaf pine, but NOT the sickly water oak (which are already weak trees) that was located near to our driveway (and which we had suggested he cut down); last week, it split in half and the broken half is now crushing our bottle brush tree, several landscape lights and other landscaping. For which I paid $$$$.

    I no longer see flocks(?) of bats at dusk, due to other groves of trees having been cut down. I’m requesting our sorta-HOA change the name of the subdivision to Tarpon PRAIRIE.

    I consider myself a semi-Druid and let trees and bushes grow as they will, so long as they don’t obstruct our lawn guy from his work. I transplant palms and pines that have sprung up on their own; I think I’ve planted over 25 palms and trees on our one lot, trying desperately to counteract the lumberjacks all around us. I guess living in a ‘conservancy’ applies only to deer, coyotes, bear, etc., but not to the landscape that protects and encourages them.

    [END RANT]

  3. Philip: I took their faces as irritated, more like “We can’t believe this is the last tree”, but yours works at least as well!

  4. And “Tarpon Woods” is in itself already one of those peculiar synthetic town names, combining some marine life with botanical feature. Then it occurs to me that the first part may be from being near the more famous “Tarpon Springs” … but on reflection that name has realism problems as well, if I’m correct that tarpon are open sea (salt water) fish and unlikely to be found in or around springs.

  5. Danny Boy: Yep, up here in Virginia, there’s of course a pattern. I keep expecting to see one called Hunt Valley Run Oaks Farms Estates.

    Not that I can/should be critical–I live in a nice subdivision called ” Farm”. Singular. A few years ago, VDOT replaced the street signs on the main drag, which is of course called Farm Road. And then had to replace them, because THEY got it wrong–“Farms”!

  6. Danny Boy: Yes, tarpon are primarily salt water fish. However they are known to swim upstream into fresh water, so they MIGHT have been found near Tarpon Springs.
    Never really looked up the origin of that or many other place names in Florida. I KNOW that many/most were named to attract investors and/or immigrants. The tourists came later.

  7. “Why are there domestic animal in there (a cow, a sheep) that wouldn’t be in a forest anyway?”
    Well maybe that’s because they tore down the forest in order to raise sheep. :~)

    You’re quit misguided about sheep, probably based on pictures of sheep that tend to be taken with good sunlight on the open fields or on the highway. Since these may outnumber sheep under trees by 100 to 1, I suggest you do a search of sheep and trees together and note the articles on sheep and trees along with all the pictures.

  8. Andrea,

    Please tell me they’ve started to complain about their electric bills. Their AC must run a lot more to compensate for the loss of shade.

  9. I can think of something a bear does in the woods. With the woods reduced to a single tree, that might explain the bear’s posture and grumpy demeanor. Not sure why all the other animals, especially the domesticated ones, are there as well.

  10. Again? I don’t know anything about (white) sheep; every other animal in this drawing is wild (yes, horses AND cows) and is greatly affected by the loss of trees. (I’m not really 100% sure what that black animal is by the sheep,)

  11. Kevin A: It’s a skunk. If you look closely, you can see the white stripe (sorta running into the sheep).

  12. Every time they put up a subdivision they name it after what they destroyed to build it.

    If it’s called Deer Creek Meadow it’s because they chased off the deer, buried the creek underground and paved over the meadow to make a parking lot.

    Try and guess what used to be at what is now Carousel Lane, Lunenburg, MA.

  13. 1) We live a block or so from Lake Tarpon; Tarpon Springs is the next city north of us. EVERYthing around here is named Tarpon-something-or-other.

    2) Something else: When you remove trees, you increase the density of squirrels (rats with bushy tails) in the trees that still exist. I think they all moved into our yard. I’ve had to remove my bird feeders, even the ‘squirrel-proof’ ones, for obvious reasons. And because palm rats have also invaded.

    3) These trees (palms, long-leaf pines) do not give shade. They are sparsely-leafed/needled, which is why they have survived for so many years through hurricanes. How many hurricanes did the long-leaf pines survive in their 60+ years of existence, before these eejits cut ’em down, I wonder.

  14. I don’t think it was very wise for the other animals to allow a beaver next to the last tree.

  15. Long ago my family visited Tarpon Springs as tourists, on a trip we took around Florida. The big attraction there was a picnic outing on a sponge-fishing boat, with demos of the diving. I know we took home several nice natural sponges. I wonder if it’s still a genuine industrial “fishing” enterprise, or more just to supply the local shops.

  16. Wikipedia sez (usual caveats):

    Some of the newly arrived visitors spotted tarpon jumping out of the waters and so named the location Tarpon Springs. The name is said to have originated with a remark of Mrs. Ormond Boyer, an early settler from South Carolina, and who, while standing on the shore of the Bayou and seeing fish leaping exclaimed, “See the tarpon spring!’ However, for the most part, the fish seen splashing here were mullet rather than tarpon.

  17. It’s been at least 20 years since I’ve been in once of those seaside tourist trap shops, but even as a kid (more than twice as long ago), virtually all of the shells, sand dollars, and other ocean detritus were imported (from Asia, Australia, or tropical who-knows-where). I can’t remember seeing anything that was locally sourced (neither in Florida, nor on any of the mid-Atlantic beaches that our family frequently went to).

    P.S. I don’t know why, but I cannot recall ever seeing one of those shops on any southern California beaches, but as college students we avoided the “touristy” stretches like the plague.

  18. Kilby, perhaps in some of these cases your skeptical instinct may be over-exercised. Before foam-rubber and other invented substances came along, actual sea sponges were what was used for… sponging. And there was a thriving enterprise in collecting them and processing for export. This was from the Greek Islands in the old world, and I trust the story that Greek-American settlers on Florida’s Gulf coast found they could do it there also.

    Sanibel Island, also on Florida’s Gulf coast, genuinely had an abundance of shells on their beaches. (Until destroyed by hurricanes.) I can’t say anything about whether local shops were getting supplies shipped in from elsewhere, but even if so there were loads of shells on shore and the shops would rent tourists a little bucket to go pick up your own.

  19. You DO know they beat the life outta these poor things, don’t you? Far as I know, only tourists buy ‘real’ sponges; most of the shops are full of tchotchkes that have little or nothing to do with either tarpon (the fish) or sponges (the animal).

  20. BTW, the only time I’m in the downtown/tourist area of Tarpon Springs is on my way to the medical clinic I use, four times/year. I’ve yet to actually BE a tourist there, in my 7.5 years living only 10 minutes south. Of course, 2.5 of those years were in the pandemic, but still . . . my dogs’ WI groomer came down here and asked about some famous restaurant in TS, but I had no idea what restaurant she meant (they come and go like mullet jumping in the Bayou).

    @Chuck Wood: That comment made me laff. Thanks!

  21. I grew up in a house in a subdivision named “Wedgewood Park”. As far as I know no fine china (Wedgewood) or park was destroyed in putting up the houses (and no woods where the houses were erected).

    There was, however, a golf course behind the houses across the street from us (entrance to it at the other end of the golf course) and at the far end of the circle our street formed, there later was a nature preserve established by the township – so when mom was living there alone (after we all married and dad died) she could not put out the garbage the night before pickup or the “residents” of the nature preserve would come and look for a snack in her garbage.

  22. @ Mitch – I do know that natural sponges can be used in a bathtub (we recently bought one as a gift for a friend), but the problem is more widespread than that. Most seaside resorts simply cannot produce more than a tiny fraction of any of those maritime souvenirs that the shops sell, and even the ones that could be found locally are probably more expensive than the mass-market imported crap.
    In some places there is a similar problem with seafood. We have travelled several times to various European coastal or even island locations, only to discover that the nearby waters had been so completely overfished that the local restaurants were stocked with imported seafood.

  23. The thing about cutting down trees, etc, is it’s what people want. They democratically vote, year after year, decade after decade, for politicians and parties with a solid track record of removing/weakening environmental protection laws and who are known to take donations from companies whose interests are best served by lax environmental protection laws.

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