Posted by: Memorizing Nature | January 1, 2012

Pining For Tall Trees

Here I am feeling badly for saying that trees are too boring to blog about. It’s true there are far more interesting nature subjects – spiders attacking beetles come to mind, or hibernating groundhogs with hearts that forget to beat for the winter. Nevertheless, I admit I was unfair, calling mundane the living things that exhale oxygen for our own greedy lungs. I have written about bulrushes with enthusiasm, but have neglected the pines.

Photo by E. Medline

We take them for granted. After all, half a dozen Eastern White Pines rise above the rocky outcrops near our meadow, framing the land with a calm presence. Especially in winter, when tufts of snow lounge on their boughs, these trees grow high and stand out, flaunting decorative cones. Nearby, hopeful offspring make a mark on the land, eventually sprouting a foot a year.

There was a time when white pines were felled to make masts for British naval ships. Now they’re manufactured into window trims and telephone poles and coffin boards. They do poorly in cities or beside highways, because they choke on air pollution and suffer in salt. However, left undisturbed, they can live hundreds of years. Pinus strobus, the provincial tree of Ontario. The most stately softwood, an empress of the conifers.

Photo by E. Medline

I believe I could live at the top of a white pine like an eagle. The branches are cushy and the view is full. Every day would smell like a winter holiday.   

Five needles to a bundle, cones long and tapered – that’s how you can identify the Eastern White Pine. If they weren’t there, I think I would look out my window and feel bored.

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Responses

  1. Very nice, Elaine….though I’m a Western Canadian. I’d like to make a pitch for the Douglas Fir….everyone’s favourite Christmas tree!

    • Norm, it is true that Douglas-fir cones, with their tridentine bracts, are the most beautiful!


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