Pines

If you haven’t noticed, I have a strong artsy streak, and it likes to land on pretty things in nature. One of those pretty things that has always captured my imagination is the pine tree. It’s big, it’s ostentatious, it makes a statement. So just imagine my surprise to find that pines are not the same everywhere, but look drastically different between my home in East Texas and my college in northern Idaho. The following are my thoughts on such a strange happenstance.

                The Moscow pine is shaped like a spearhead, broader than the firs, but still thrusting up in an attempt to pierce the sky. All of its branches are turned to that same goal, the little needles scratching at the air. When the wind comes, those dark bristles stir, but the tree stands firm. It has a mission, a dark and noble purpose, and it will not be moved.

                The Nacogdoches pine rolls in the sky like waves on the shore. Two and three times the size of its Moscow cousin, it sways in the breeze, its branches tossing in gentle air or mighty tempest. It is not pointed, but spreads its topmost branches like a cottony canopy over the verdant forests. Beneath that ceiling, shade chokes the lower boughs, and many times they shrink and fall away altogether. But they die with a purpose. In the room created below, there flourish dogwoods and azaleas, crepe myrtles and leafy hardwoods, carpets of flowering honeysuckle. A Nacogdoches pine is shelter from the storm, a nurse to the woodlands beneath.

This stands out to me because pines and I go way back. I grew up with pines encircling our house, playing beneath them, watching them swirl in hurricanes. Our two-story fort was built out of pines, with pine bark for camouflage. Pines ringed the soccer fields I played at, and they gave their name to the woods that stretch from Louisiana and Arkansas into Texas and Oklahoma–the woods I was raised in. So one day I hope to pick up this theme again, and do it justice. Not with prose alone, or with my own variety of free verse. No, with carefully crafted poems backed by years more experience. Until then, I hope I’ve been able to show you a little of what I see in pines. Have a blessed weekend.

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