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Legends, Old Cedar Trees and Children

By Sharon
August 8, 2012

Let's talk a little about legends, lore and Nature. On good weather Sundays, late in the afternoon, you can find me wandering in the Land Between the Lakes here in western Kentucky. I have a friend who always goes with me; last week when she called she said, "Let's go visit the Cedar Tree."

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Name: Taqiyyah
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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May 8, 2014 4:27 PM CST
The most imposing object in my backyard was what we always called The Pine tree, although there was another one, also quite large, further down, forming the back of the sloping yard. I now know they were both Colorado blue spruces. The Pine tree was taller than the house and was almost right on top of it, and was just the biggest tree I'd ever seen. I learned about giant sequoias around that time, but I still couldn't imagine anything taller than that tree. The bottom branches were cut long before we moved in, and the pendulous branches above formed a cool, airy cave--a sort of ground-level tree house. Just about every game we played started, ended, or involved the Pine tree somehow.

We would hang treats for the birds and throw bird seed on the ground under it. It was Base for games of chase. I got to know every gnarly root at the surface, and which of the knots in the trunk most of the gooey, gummy sap flowed from in spring, when we'd get sticks and smear and scoop it out to use in leaf and dirt concoctions. I would pick the soft new needles to brush against my face, and rub the silvery waxy coating off bristly mature ones until the green under it showed again. I remember wishing I could climb it--I could climb the maples on the edges of the yards--but the lowest branches were too high for me to reach, and too densely spaced. One day I sat as still as I could in the dim shelter and waited until the sparrows got comfortable enough to hop within a couple of paces of me.

My parents were born and raised in Harlem and Brooklyn, New York. They loved The City, and it's in our blood to love it, too. But even though they probably knew the names of more buses and trains than trees and flowers at the time, they somehow knew that among other things, their children would need a Colorado blue spruce. So they moved Upstate.

Now living in Maryland, my five-year-old daughter asks me almost every time we're outside together near the pine tree in our yard (this one really is a pine, not nearly as imposing as The Pine, although it must be quite a big deal to her), "Can we do sap?" And she goes and gets a stick. I have to lift her onto my shoulder to reach the best flows, but I grin as I do it and let her take her time.

After reading your article, I wonder if I'll ever find another tree that touches me like The Pine did.
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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May 8, 2014 4:54 PM CST
Funny how we can get so attached to something in the plant family. I've sat beneath and leaned against one tree or another every time I've had something heavy on my mind. Even now, I still find a tree when I need to think things through.

I love your PIne Tree Story, how beautiful, but even more beautiful is that your little girl is loving her Pine Tree too.
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