By Christina Barton
Trees, so many trees. Not just any trees, unique; Scots pine, red pine, white pine, white birch. Pinus resinosa, Pinus strobus, Betula paprifera. Dendrology has ruined my perception of trees. My love for them has changed. No longer do I look at them in ignorant bliss, but look at the bark and stem. Still a beautiful tree, but now Latin names and naked buds race to mind. As men scale pines, I note that they probably have pitch on their gloves. Snap! The scaling man has cut a branch from the pine. Does he count the number of needles in each cluster? Does he know the species, and does he know they like dry, acidic soil?
Either way, he hacks its limbs. He must notice the pitch that covers its wounds. Oh, which is which? Pull the needles and crush it in your fingers. Smell of cat pee, ah yes, white spruce. Will the arborist count the rings? No, wood chips are the purpose. Different parts and different purposes. Deep in these trees, they take in nutrients and water and store resin. Do these drivers think about this too? They drive by with curious eyes, peering at the men hoisted high in the sky. Fascination at the tree limbs that go in one side and emerge as chips and bites.
Acer rubrum. Collateral buds cover the tree. Soon, long samaras with slightly divergent wings on long slender stems. What once was a flower in my mind has morphed into a fruit which will ripen in the spring to late summer. How I once threw those winged clusters in the sky and let them fall around me like autumn’s frail leaves. Now, I brushed winged samaras off my car in annoyance. Is it just my innocence come and gone, or is it the burden of knowledge that has stolen my wide eyes of wonder? However, I continue to journey under Acer saccharinum and Betula alleghaniensis. Dazing over the days of when yellow birch was just a yellowed white tree and sugar maples were just where maple syrup came from. All the while the pines sway and look on.