Wireless Signal Tree

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by Neil Carleton

When can an internet tower look like a tree? If you have a big white spruce in your rural front yard, it might be the perfect solution to bring internet service into your home.  

After reading about the heritage spruce growing at the old S.S. No.9 Ramsay Public School, on the 8th concession, Kaija Mountain e-mailed about the large white spruce growing at 411 Bellamy Mills Road in front of her family’s house. When I visited, this month’s unique tree could be seen a considerable distance away. With a height of 19 m ( 62 ft ), it towers over the house with a companion that’s almost as tall. At chest height, the diameter is a substantial 77 cm ( 30 in ) with a circumference of 2.2 m ( 7 ft ).

Kaija and Jim Mountain moved to the property in 1989. The tall spruce trees around the house have been a nesting home over the years to different kinds of birds, including families of robins and swallows. Each year the Mountain family looks forward to the return of an oriole. Its intricate hanging nest gently sways to the comforting sound of the wind in the spruce branches. The trees have also been climbing challenges when their daughters were growing up. Kaija recalls the time when a neighbour called to report that she could see one of the girls high up in the branches.

After the Mountain family moved to the farm, the late Ron Gunn explained that the trees around the house were planted in 1925 by his parents, Grant and Annie. The seven white spruce of Christmas tree size took well and flourished. In 1991, one of the big trees was struck by lightning. Jim and his father cut it down, brought in a portable saw, and used the lumber to make box stalls in the barn. Three others blew down in strong winds.

While I was taking a photo to accompany this column, Kaija and Jim pointed out the small white internet antenna that is almost hidden in the upper-most branches of the big white spruce. The wireless signal that arrives at the top of the tall tree brings internet service into their home. It’s certainly the nicest looking telecommunications tower I’ve ever seen.

I’m grateful to Paul Ralph at Cedar Hill Berry Farm for his advice about the age of a Christmas tree size spruce. Under farm conditions, a tree of adult height could be in the ten to twelve year range. If the growth rate of a wild tree was somewhat less, under not as favourable conditions, the white spruce that Grant and Annie Gunn planted in 1925 was perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old.

I think it would be appropriate this year to celebrate the tree’s 100th anniversary. Thank you to Kaija and Jim Mountain for nominating this month’s tree of renown.

   Do you have a favourite tree? Readers are invited to submit their nominations for an honor roll of trees in our area that could be featured in future articles. You can contact me at 613-256-2018, <carle@magma.ca >, or Neil Carleton, P.O. Box 1644, Almonte, Ontario, K0A 1A0. I look forward to hearing from you.

Until the next column, you’ll find me looking for and hanging out with local shady characters.