Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pine trees

Stand of White Pines
Stand of White Pines, 5" x 7", acrylic and china marker on panel - SOLD.

Thyself Beneath Whatever Sky
Thyself Beneath Whatever Sky, 12" x 9", acrylic on canvas.

The Wind's Cathedral
The Wind's Cathedral, 10" x 8", acrylic and china marker on canvas - SOLD.

In the shop. The house I grew up in is in the heart of a white pine grove. The trees were all planted by my grandfather in 1928 when he was 12 years old. The seedlings were supplied by the University of Maryland for agricultural research. And for many years students came to make observations and measurements. The University has long since forgotten them. My father's cousin Margie remembers when the pines were so dense that you had to be really brave to walk from her grandparents' house (where I grew up) and her Uncle Dave's house (my grandparents' house). But by my time the pines--hundreds of them--had all stretched to a hundred feet or more. They have brittle limbs and shallow roots, and they rock dangerously in storms. In 2003 Hurricane Isabel felled twenty of them. It was a scary night, a miracle that the houses and cars were not damaged. My mother has been removing them one by one as she can afford it. They are beautiful and tragic at the same time. This poem captures the white pines so well, although the very fortunate Mr. Jenkins only has three to contend with. 

"Unfortunate Location"
by Louis Jenkins

In the front yard there are three big white pines, older
than anything in the neighborhood except the stones.
Magnificent trees that toss their heads in the wind
like the spirited black horses of a troika. It's hard to
know what to do, tall dark trees on the south side of
the house, an unfortunate location, blocking the
winter sun. Dark and damp. Moss grows on the roof,
the porch timbers rot and surely the roots have
reached the old bluestone foundation. At night, in
the wind, a tree could stumble and fall killing us in
our beds. The needles fall year after year making an
acid soil where no grass grows. We rake the fallen
debris, nothing to be done, we stand around with
sticks in our hands. Wonderful trees.

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