Missing from the Manse: one big old red pine tree

Where the red pine used to be

What’s missing from this photo (showing a bit of the huge red spruce trees that adorn the Manse’s front lawn) is a red pine tree that used to be there too. See that little mound in about centre of the photo? That seems to be what’s left.

Okay, so I’ve decided (thanks to some support from readers) that since the two huge red spruce trees that are right beside the Manse – my worries about the situation having been the topic of yesterday’s post – do look quite healthy, perhaps they won’t fall onto the house and create a disaster. At least for the moment. And, you know, barring a hurricane or a tornado or something – which, given how crazy the weather has got in recent years seems to me not out of the question.

But anyway. Tonight I want to tell you about a third big evergreen tree that once stood alongside those twin red spruce (spruces?), whose absence I often wonder about.

Red spruce cones

The long, slim cones from the Manse’s two red spruce trees, in a photo taken last year when they were falling while still immature.

Back in the days of my childhood here at the Manse, the third tall evergreen was just to the east of the other two. It was a different kind of tree, and I know that not because I know anything about tree varieties (although I’m trying to learn), but because it had a different kind of cone. While the cones that fall from the existing pair are (and were, back in my childhood) long and slim and kind of soft, the cones from that third tree were squat and stubby and dry and hard. They looked, in fact, exactly like this:

Red pine cone

This is a cone from a tree that is directly across the road from the Manse, on the property of our neighbours Chuck and Ruth. It is easily one of the most beautiful trees that Raymond and I have ever seen; we call it the Tree of Life. (I first wrote about it, and photographed it, here.) Here is another photo, taken just a day or two ago:

Tree of Life July 2014

Now, because the Tree of Life has (again with the help of readers) been identified for me as a red pine, I now know that the third tree on the northern edge of the Manse’s front yard must have been that too, thanks to the aforementioned sameness of the cones.

So here are the things I wonder about that red pine that used to be here:

  • What happened to it? Did it sicken and die and have to be removed? Was it cut down because it was deemed a threat? And how long ago did that happen? (There is still a bit of a mound of earth where it used to be, under which I assume lies rotting, or fully rotten, trunk and root material.)
  • What connection might it have been to the Tree of Life? The latter, you see, is in what was once the front yard of our across-the-way neighbours (when I was a kid), Will and Isabella Holmes. (Will Holmes having been the person who filled us in, on the day my family moved here 50 years ago, in July 1964, that the water in the Manse’s well was undrinkable. I wrote about that memorable moment here.) But there certainly was no large tree in the tiny front yard of the Holmeses’ house back then; in fact, I am not sure there was any tree at all.

Which tells me that the tall, astounding Tree of Life that Raymond and I admire all the time has come to be what it is today, in 2014, in the course of my own lifetime. When I was a kid and teenager here, it must have been little more than a sapling, if it existed at all. And in fact, I wonder (given the way tree roots spread) whether it might even be the offspring of the red pine tree that used to be at the Manse. That idea makes me happy.

Well, it makes me happy even as a related idea – that a tall, beautiful, old-looking tree has sprung to life, and to its current magnificent height, in the course of my own short (at least, it seems that way to me) lifetime – leaves me feeling … what? Old?

No, actually. I think a better word is – awed.

5 thoughts on “Missing from the Manse: one big old red pine tree

  1. Your lovely tree was cut down because Rev. Barend was concerned that the tree might fall on his home. It was a beautiful tree and many of us were disappointed one day when we drove by and it was cut down. It was solid wood and very healthy but did take up much room in the front yard. It was very memorial as many of the children of the manse played in that tree and also swung from that tree. After a while the stump of the tree was taken out as well. A great gift of nature is gone but not forgotten.

  2. what if what if?
    I hate to tell you and your readers that as people age so does their perception of trees. An example ny grandmother remarked that she noticed that a beautiful 60 foot blue spruce was swaying in the wind and if it fell it might damage the house. Being a young whippersnapper at the time I said
    ‘If it didn’t bend it would snap off.”
    Another example was an older lady approached me when i was on our local council, she said that an older Weeping Willow should come down at the park as it might hit her if she happened to be walking in a hurricane. i left it standing and it outlived the lady by 20 years..
    Sometimes i think and feel we can think too much!

    • Classic observation, Richard! Now I will stop worrying. Why anticipate a tree-flattening hurricane that will probably never come? And I hope those red spruces do outlive me, by a long shot!

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