Trees in winter lose their leaves. Some trees may even fall during storms, but most stand patiently and bear their fortune.
They endure rain, snow, wind, and cold. They bear the adornment of glycerin raindrops, glimmering icicles, or crowns of snow without care. They are not concerned when such lustrous splendor is dashed to the ground. They stand, and they wait, the power of their growth apparently dormant. But inside, a burgeoning is building imperceptibly.
~ Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao: Daily Meditations
To me, it’s the trees here on the Eastern Shore that make winter different from in the Bogs of Ohio. Oh, there are other things as well. It’s not as cold, for instance, and we don’t get nearly as much snow. But the trees, particularly the loblolly pines, are aliens to me.
Well, not quite aliens anymore. We’ve been here for a while, and the trees and I are getting to know each other. Loblolly pines (pinus taeda) are tall and lanky (as captioned in the first image), and can grow up to 115 feet (35 meters) in height. A few show off loblollies have grown up to 160+ feet. The tallest known loblolly pine, topping off at 169 feet, is in Congaree National Park in South Carolina, a park I’d love to visit if M and I ever make our way back to South Carolina (we used to live in Columbia, South Carolina, once upon a time and many, many years ago when we were first married).
Did you know the word loblolly means “low, wet place?” I didn’t either until today. One of the old names for the loblolly pine is rosemary pine, due to its rosemary-like scent.
It’s a wonderful thing to see so much green in winter, especially as we approach that longest of all winter months: February. February, if you’ll pardon my saying so, is a bitch. Or at least she used to be. I have no idea what February will be like on the peninsula. Warmer, perhaps, than in the Bogs. Less snow, certainly, unless something peculiar happens.
The loblolly pines, the wax myrtles, the hollies, the cedars, and the magnolias all look so beautiful decorated with snow. The dried flowers in the meadows put on a show, too, especially in the early morning when the sunlight sparkles off the snow.
Though a tree grows so high, the falling leaves return to the root.
~ Malay proverb
Trees, in any season, have been much on my mind lately. I see little tree shapes in the morning frost on the windows, and even in some snowflakes. I am frequently called to the small grove of magnolias gathered in the woods, or moved to spend time with the cedars at the edge of the marsh. I lean into the loblollies, listening to the stories that have to tell, or just to rest and watch the birds.
Trees serve as homes for visiting devas who do not manifest in earthly bodies, but live in the fibers of the trunks and larger branches of the trees, feed from the leaves and communicate through the tree itself. Some are permanently stationed as guardians of sacred places.
~ Hindu Deva Shastra, verse 117, Nature Devas
Did I tell you we have named some of the trails on the Wabi-Sabi Ranch? We have the Woodland Trail where the little birds ate most of the grass seed and are now enjoying bird seed instead. The Woodland Trail is our widest trail, and it takes you to the dock on Back Creek. The Yellow Buoy trail is named for the yellow buoy hanging on the stump of a tree at the beginning (or end – depends on which way you’re going) of the trail. You can access the Yellow Buoy trail from either end of the Woodland Trail. You can see The Boat That Came Ashore in the Woods from either the Woodland Trail or the Yellow Buoy Trail.
There are two more trails that wind in or around the woods. The Marsh Trail takes you through part of the marsh, and then into the woods where you can connect with the Deer Skull Trail. The Deer Skull Trail will take you to the magnolia grove and then out to the Woodland Trail by the boardwalk to the dock. The magnolias are not confined to this area. There are magnolias scattered throughout the woods. But this area has the largest magnolia of the forest and a small gathering of kin surrounding it. I’ve taken a few pictures of the magnolias in the small grove, but nothing has come out quite right yet. The images don’t capture the spirit of the place. I’ll keep trying.
That’s it from the Wabi-Sabi Ranch on this last Thursday in January. Thanks for visiting, and taking a walk in the woods with me. It’s cold today, but not as cold as yesterday. The snow will stick around for another day or two before the big thaw over the weekend. I think it will be a good day to watch the sunset from the dock. Meet you out there. Sunset is at 5:23 pm, but the sun will go down behind the trees on the horizon about ten minutes before actual sunset.
Be good, be kind, be loving. Just Be. 🙂