I have always loved pine trees. Ever since I was a child, the sight of pines has been a constant presence in my neighborhood, their evanescent green constant through the changing seasons. In my area of Oklahoma, pine trees are not a native species, but my family’s next door neighbor planted pine saplings over fifty years ago and they were giants in my childhood.
I would go across the street and pick up needles and pinecones, exotic oddities on our block filled with soft wood, enjoying the smooth feel of the needles and the rough texture of the cones. The contrast between the two made me love pines even more as I grew up, and as an adult I longed to have pine trees in my own yard. But since I now live in a dry West Fort Worth area, that is not possible.
Years have passed since I was a child, and my parents’ neighbors who owned the lot died long ago. My parents now own the lot, and when my twin sons and I come to visit, we often go that that yard to explore and play in the shade of the pines. Last weekend while my sons played, my son Ivan pointed at the pine needles of a low-lying limb and asked “What is that Daddy?”
I plucked a clump of needles and showed them to him. “These are pine needles. See how green they are. Touch them and feel their smoothness.” My three and a half year old son touched the smoothed needles and laughed, his smile flashing like the sun in a darkened room. I playfully ruffled his hair as he soon went off to play something else.
As I watched him and my other son Aden play with fallen twigs and pinecones, I hoped that they would remember this time, this golden memory they shared with me. I want them to remember that their father shared with them his love for pines, and I hope they share the same love as me. Seeing them run and play chase in the tree-filled lot, I felt the years pass, my mind flashing back to when I was a child and did the same thing.
A lot has changed since I was a boy, but my love of nature still holds true. I can only hope this simple love can be cherished by others and pass that legacy on. For that I believe it will happen.
This is an article in my Subdivision Journal series. I am trying to use mindfulness to observe nature in my neighborhood. Other articles in the series:
Signs of Decay, Signs of Life
Meeting With Magpies
The Tree Blossoms
The Dead Bird
A Budding Tree
An Encounter With a Falcon
The Carrying of Sounds
The View from My Window
Carl Wade Thompson is a poet, essayist, and the graduate writing tutor at Texas Wesleyan University. He has published poetry and memoir essays in The Mayo Review, The Concho River Review, One in Four, Anak Sastra, The Galway Review, The Blue Collar Review, Piker Press, The Eunoia Review, Blue Minaret, Nebo Literary Magazine, Alphelion Literary Webzine, and Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas. He lives on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas. His poems explore the link between the urban and the rural.
Photo of father and son by Jozef Polc