I was thrilled to see this first seedling. I feel a sense of awe and honor as I help this ancient species continue its existence. If I'm lucky I'll get to see it reach a few feet in height before my own passing into history. I hope my son will care for the Bristlecones I manage to grow and plant here on the twelve acres. I plan to keep them close to the house so that I can keep watch over them without having to walk far.
Looking at this seedling makes me wonder just which species is caring for which. It's so easy to take trees for granted because they are such an integral part of our lives. They are always there. Everyone can probably think back to a specific moment in his childhood where a tree played a significant role in the making of a memory, be it a tree that held a tire swing in the yard or the tree that became the centerpiece of a Christmas morning. I have many memories of "my" trees. Do they have memories of me?
The trees that frame the twelve acres are witnesses to my life. I know them because they were my playground when I was growing up. The smell of the pines in the windbreak brings back floods of childhood memories. They are dear old friends and, like me, their roots are in this ancestral ground.
Photographer James Balog brings the thought home for me as he describes what it was like to photograph a 1,400 year old Live Oak:
"Though I don't usually indulge in romantic, druidic speculation about trees, when I'm in the presence of this oak, I can't help wonder who is the observer and who is the observed. While we watch trees, do they gaze back at us?"
Photo: Bristlecone Pine, Nevada