A Haida Gwaii Spruce

 

S’Gang Gwaai House depressions

Tansy and Favourite Photographer are very lucky to have travelled to SGang Gwaay several times. This beautiful and remote village at the very south end of Haida Gwaii is a World Heritage site, and one of their favourite places to be.

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S’Gang Gwaai Poles

House depressions show where the villagers lived, facing a sheltered bay, a line of carved poles fronting the water. Now quiet and peaceful, it was once a thriving community with laughter, chatter, arguments, people going about their daily lives.

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New Boardwalk

Tansy and Favourite Photographer were at the site for a month in November 2018 to help with building a boardwalk so that visitors to the site can keep to specific trails. The little hut is a place that visitors can rest, and shelter from the rain.

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Steps

A new set of steps for the adventurous visitors leads them up the hill behind the village – Tansy’s favourite tree is at the top of these steps – you can see it with a coil of rope at the base.

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Big old Sitka Spruce

It is a venerable old Sitka Spruce tree – covered in moss and lichens, little ferns growing along the lower branches.  A whole ecosystem in a tree! Tansy and Favourite Photographer love this tree growing in ancient soils – people have lived here for millennia, and this tree has looked over the village site for more than 200 years.

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Tansy’s favourite branch

Tansy can’t get very high up – this tree is very big, and Tansy is very short, so she usually just gets up to this one branch, leans in, and says hello to her tree friend.

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If you click on this link it will take you to the December 13th, 2018 Quimper Hitty Blog Post, showing Tansy and Favourite Photographer during the boardwalk-building work in the village…

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The next part of this post will be pretty hard to look at, but the result is encouraging so try not to be too horrified…

A few days after the work crew left SGang Gwaay a huge storm wreaked havoc at the site. Miraculously there was minimal damage to the houses and poles, but…

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Storm Wreckage

…the hurricane force winds blew down trees and smashed the forest to smithereens. Tansy and Favourite Photographer went back to SGang Gwaay in February 2019 to help with the work of clearing the trails.

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crash

Huge destruction in the forest…

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chainsaw

…and bit by bit they worked their way along the boardwalk, cutting the trees into small pieces so they could be removed.

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Hut

The little rest-and-shelter hut was completely destroyed.

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cleared path

…but slowly the crew cleaned up the tree throws and re-positioned the boardwalks.

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Steps

…it was a huge job.

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Down

Tansy’s favourite tree blew down.

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branch

She sat on the remains of her favourite branch and mourned…

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Cut

..then a very kind crew member cut a bit of wood from that very branch – the one that she used to stand on when she talked to the tree.

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soil

The thick soil build-up shows the rich substrate the ferns and moss used to grow in.

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Cleared

The tree has been chopped up, but the Favourite Photographer carried the little branch section home to  the Quimper Hitty cupboard.

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Sitka

The Quimper Hitty human has been carving it…

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Waiting

The wood is extremely hard compression wood from the branch, which split and and checked as it dried. Cyanoacryllate glue went into the biggest splits, and it does appear to be holding everything together.

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I Love You

Tansy is so happy!

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remembering

Her name is Sitka, and she is a little girl of hope – nourished by the tree that grew in a four thousand year old shell midden. I am sure she has memories of the comings and goings of the village’s people, the quiet and sadness after it was abandoned.  There must have been many lovely foggy and misty days of peace, recently with occasional visitors and guardians who are descendants of the original villagers.

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SGang Gwaii summer 2019

The village site was cleared of most of the storm damage by the summer of 2019, but that was the last time it was open to visitors before Covid-19. This summer, 2022 visitors will be able to visit again! Some day Tansy and Sitka hope to go back together.

19 thoughts on “A Haida Gwaii Spruce

  1. This is a fabulous heritage for Sitka to read, ponder and view once she’s totally come forth from the branch that was so carefully brought to you, the carver. To me, it’s a reverential narrative. Thanks for sharing.

    • It is such a privilege to get this special piece of wood, and I am glad to have the earlier photos and imagine the gentle life of the tree. The ending of the tree in the storm must have been pretty traumatic…I am trying to be gentle in the carving, though it is a bit of a conundrum, the wood is so-o-o hard!

  2. It was hard to look at the devastation from the storm. The sawyer was so kind to save the special branch from the old tree for Tansy. Welcome Sitka.

    • It was quite shocking to see how much damage there was, and very kind of the sawyer. I am so grateful to have been given the chance to help this little branch continue the story of the tree through the carving – thank you!

  3. You are a natural storyteller. I love this. It’s the perfect thing for Tansy, Sitka, and the reader.

  4. thank you and the favorite photographer for documenting this, at least it was an act of nature and not humans. Sitka will remain as a witness to all that went before. Have you read “Finding the Mother Tree” by Suzanne Simard? It is a must, I can drop it off if you like.

    • You are welcome. I am privileged to get another special piece of wood to carve another storm doll. She will be a sister to the Kogawa Cherry doll, but she will stay here with us. I haven’t yet read the Susan Simard book, though it’s been recommended to me by other people as well.

  5. Pingback: living on the land |

  6. such a special HItty and such a wonderous place. I look forward to her completion and maybe even the visit she will make with Tansy to her ancestral home.

  7. This is a lovely story of hope. Our indigenous peoples have a famous song about regaining land rights, and the chorus goes “From little things, big things grow”. In Sitka’s case, it’s “from big things, little things grow”!

    • A little seedling… a big tree…a big storm…a little doll…the stories are endless, or continuous, or circular or something. I am glad to be a part of this story…

  8. Forest people, they are great because they know everything about forests and trees… and they appreciate them all. Hit me. Hit me deeply. I am living in a place that people damage forests… As always dear Hitty Lady, this is beautiful and also touching story but as a real life… I loved to be here with your world, Thank you, Love, nia

    • I was in some beautiful little forests in your country, one in Priene, and another one in Karatepe Aslantas…I hope that forests can be protected, they are very special places in the world

      • Dear Hitty Lady, the places you mentioned are so priceless, I haven’t been there and visited the museum too but I know. For now it is alive… But in my country many places gone… they all turned to concrete hills… And what’s worse, they approve the development plan and sell them to the Arabs. Many things happening in here… and how can we stand all these things I don’t know. People wait for the vote…early election, urgent election, or now as soon as possible… Normally it should be done but with our autocrat seems not will be easy… He doesn’t want to leave his throne… Anyway I am so glad to hear that you visited these places, Thank you, Love, nia

  9. Pingback: Copper Bracelets for Sitka | Quimper Hittys

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