"Here and there in the Vermont woods, a hiker or tracker may come upon a ‘witness tree,’ a massive specimen of beech, maple, or other long-lived species standing among the spindlier upstarts of only the past fifty to one hundred years. Most of these majestic old trees have been left alone during at least two centuries of clear-cutting and gradual reforestation because they once marked a property line. They have served thus as legal witnesses, but also, in my mind, as witnesses to change in the landscape, wildlife, and human populations over the long years. Their size and beneficent presence can make a person feel the weight of history and the significance of any living thing that has survived centuries of storms and trials, especially anything that has been spared the ax. Whatever damage these trees have witnessed or sustained, they also tell a story of restraint.”