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How much time had passed from the first time you saw the sunlit hemlocks to the outing where you found them devastated by the parasite? What was that moment like?
Some 5-6 years. When I was confronted by that drastic change it wiped out my illusion of security. I knew that trees die but still thought of the forest as “eternal” compared to the span of my own life. There is a short poem by A. Pushkin about an oak tree on his estate: “As I look at this patriarch of the forest, I know it will outlive my age just as it had outlived the age of my forefathers”. A century and a half later, I was able to sit under that very same oak, reciting the poem in my mind. But after seeing the hemlocks wiped out I could no longer believe the “eternal” forest would outlive me.