Friday, January 11, 2008

Birth of A Patriarch?

Just five days old, this Pinus aristata (or Bristlecone Pine) seedling is the first one I've ever grown. I have 24 more seeds of its kind, three of which have also sprouted. My germination tray is low-tech and recycled--a foam egg carton.

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

1 comment:

  1. Amy:
    Good for you, cultivating these gorgeous trees!
    That picture (the last one) is marvelous. It looks tortured (or windswept, if you are optimistic)
    To answer your question you left on my comment section:
    A very angry, healthy Great Horned Owl could go through a leather glove. That's why I had gloves made of leather AND Kevlar! : )
    Our GHO is up there in years and not prone to be a jerk. But he has occasionally gotten a talon in one of the SEAMS of my glove and given me a bruise. That said, I would handle him any day of the week before messing with our leucistic red-tailed hawk, Isis. She can go through TWO (yes, I said TWO) leather gloves.
    You're from Oak Harbor????? Magee Marsh is like my favorite place to bird in the whole world!


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