Leelanau's Misunderstood Tree
The Leelanau peninsula is home to countless thick stands of black locust trees - one of them right outside my window.
Now many people simply don't like this tree - with its small canopy of tiny leaves, atop an ungracefully tall, thin and deeply furrowed trunk.
Yes, as trees go, the black locust is not a very pretty sight ... looking more, some would say, like an extremely large weed.
But over the years, I've come to respect and admire this fixture of the Leelanau landscape.
The black locust was widely planted in the early 1900's after the native virgin timber had been clear cut. A fast-growing tree, it stabilized and enriched the soil - and served as a strong windbreak for the crops that followed the lumber boom.
The wood of the black locust is very dense and hard - almost indestructible. Taking an ax to it feels like hitting a brick wall. No wonder that for the early settlers of the lakeshore, It was the wood of choice for fence posts, docks and other necessarily sturdy things.
And for firewood, it doesn't get any better than black locust. It burns slowly, produces a lot of heat, and creates a s'more perfect bed of long-lasting hot coals.
The black locust tree of Leelanau: No-nonsense, tough, hardworking and productive.
A lot like the good people who planted it so many years ago.
See You Up North,
Visit A Leelanau Landmark: Empire Anchor Day - celebrating the
discovery of a monumental anchor off Empire Beach. Sounds a
little hokey, but its great fun with festivities all weekend. July 20-22,