Boy, that Joyce Kilmer knew whereof he spoke. In this part of the state, trees are an ever present part of our existence but one to which we give little thought unless they give us a problem.
I’ve always been a colossal fan of trees. As you’ve heard me say, I grew up in the desert, but we had a cabin 60 miles away and 5000 feet higher in a place called Idylwild. I absolutely loved it there. I can remember coming home from Idylwiid when I was about five. I stood out in our front yard, looking up in the sky and saying, “God, if you would just let it rain more here, we could have trees like they do up in the mountains. “ I was so sure He hadn’t thought of that.
As a kid, trees meant a place to play that was out of the heat. Oh we had trees … mesquite trees that were full of evil and aggressive thorns. . . a few cottonwood here and there … once in a while a tamarack or a palo verde. But those were always few and far between. None of those trees actually offered much in the way of shade and, except for the tamarack, no good vehicle for climbing. Which may explain why, in my adult life, I’ve tended to move farther and farther north to wetter and wetter climate that allow for more and more trees.
I can wax poetic when thinking about trees. Although I agree with Kilmer that
“Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”
Still, I think of trees in the Summer as those entities who wrap their arms
of shade around us to mitigate the unrelenting heat.
I think of blossoming trees in the Spring as providing the dotted Swiss in
the fabric of our lives
In the Winter they provide nature with the material for her to tat lace along
the ridge lines of the hills.
And in the Fall the trees give us the stained glass windows in the
cathedral of autumn …
EXCEPT … EXCEPT …
The gray (Digger) pine. I never thought there would a specie of tree … pine no less … that would elicit from me such a feeling of disdain and dismay, but the gray pines around my house have managed on both those counts. Disdain because they are ungainly and dirty to say nothing of ugly! Dismay because they are actively dangerous. They carry their very heavy, pitch laden cones primarily in the crown of the tree. Word of warning: don’t park under one … or even stand under one. You risk an acutely painful bombardment from above and one that can do serious damage to your car in dents and broken windshields. In a wild fire, those same pitchy pine cones can explode into burning embers that can still be burning a half mile down wind.
I’m sure there are those of you out there who would have reason to extoll the lowly gray pine. I don’t want to hear it. As the saying goes, “my mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts!” … if, indeed, there are any.
Adrienne Jacoby is a 40-plus-year resident of Shasta County and native-born Californian. She was a teacher of vocal music in the Enterprise Schools for 27 years and has been retired for 11 years.
A musician all her life, she was married to the late Bill Jacoby with whom she formed a locally well -known musical group who prided themselves in playing for weddings, wakes, riots, bar mitzvas and super market openings. And, oh yes … she has two children, J’Anna and Jayson.