Old White Pine

I look out my dining window and see a once stunning old white pine. Since I moved back home to Saratoga Springs, New York, in 2014, I have watched the tree covered in snow and showing like ermine with laden boughs. I love the tree. It keeps me company and reminds me to pray for trees and the Green Nation. 

The last few years have been hard on the old white pine. Fellow deciduous trees that blocked the wind now stand empty because of blowdown storms. The old white pine stands on its own now being battered to and fro. This winter has been tough on the tree. Several large branches came down, and the tree is starting to look tattered. There are broken branches within the tree that are stuck and hang like broken arms.

The plan is that Wesley Retirement Community will take the tree down when it is ready to start building the new five-story senior apartment building. It won’t happen for a few years, but I am already mourning the loss of the old white pine. 

The underground landscape allowed puffball mushrooms to grow. Trees have a relationship to all that is alive below ground. The mycelium in the soil feeds the roots and keeps the tree healthy. Now the colony of trees is missing with the loss of last year’s trees. I wonder if this is weakening the old white pine?

I pray and give thanks for the old white pine that has kept me company for six years. I will miss the tree when it is gone. I dread what the view will be with a new building taking the tree’s place. Will the apartment I live in then look out at outside walls, or windows to make it worse. The apartment on the 5th floor will lose its northern view because I am on the 5th floor. And so it goes.

 The blessing in all this is that yesterday I found a small white pine seedling growing near the building in the deep mulch. The seedling would be the old white pine’s gift. I plan to replant it this spring near the woods with sun exposure. I am so grateful. I was that worried. Who knows if I will be in this apartment when the tree is cut down? Maybe I too will be gone. But at least a new generation of white pine will regenerate if all goes well.

I read The Overstory a book about trees, by Richard Powers. The text states, “For there is [the] hope of a tree, if it goes down, that it will sprout again, and its tender branches will not cease. Though the root grows old in the earth and the stock dies in the ground, at the scent of water, it will bud, and bring forth boughs. But man wastes away and dies and gives up the ghost, and where is he?

White Pine is a native tree in the eastern United States. Known for five needles.