I was a tree once. Maybe in a past life. Or something. I don’t know if I believe in all that, but for some reason I just get his overwhelming feeling sometimes. I ponder it often. I was a great pine tree. 

I grew in a valley, not a glorious one, a small, dry, valley overlooking a small lake ringed with cattails and dark granite growing thick with brilliant teal lichen. The lake was cold, clear, and placid. The cattails were abundant. 

In my peak I stood about 150 feet tall. I was heavy and strong. The base of my trunk was four feet in diameter. Every afternoon in the summer, the wind would come through and I would bend and sway with it. The summers were warm and bright. 

I grew in a small stand of my siblings. There were eight of us in all. The eldest of our group was planted by a squirrel who was trying to save food for the winter. He died long before the rest of us. We were sad that day, well, as sad as a tree can be with something that is so intertwined with the natural passing of time, like death. 


Our valley was full of other plants too. Blue elder trees, much smaller than I, grew nearby. I loved them in the summer. They would make great bushels of blue berries every year. Blue like the sky. Things would come from all around to eat their berries, birds and deer, squirrels. I especially liked the birds. Oftentimes, when the summer birds returned, they would sit on my branches and sing sweet songs to the other birds. Songs of where they had been, what they had seen, and what they had eaten. I loved their songs. 

I never longed to fly about the world like the birds. I enjoyed their stories but I knew that my valley was perfect. They never sang of trees they had seen in their travels. I knew generations and generations of these birds. They would nest in my tall, shady branches and raise their young. I loved the days when the young birds would hatch. I was their protector.

One day a mother bird with three chicks in one of my highest branches didn’t return from foraging food for them. I listened to their peeps and cries for the rest of the afternoon, hoping she would come back. She never did. 

They had stopped crying by the morning. Their soft pink bodies lay limp. Their yellow beaks buried in the bottom of the lovingly-constructed nest. I cradled them in their nest for a long time, silent. Summer continued on. 


Once, a man with a book and a woman in a hat laid a blanket on the ground in my shade. He felt my thick bark and plucked some of my thick bark and plucked some needles from my lowest branches and looked at them closely. He flipped through his book. I loved the sound of the paper turning under his thumb. 

“This is a Ponderosa Pine” he told her. 

“Oh,” she said, “cool.”

“It’s called that because the wood is very dense and heavy, it’s ponderous” he said. 

“I didn’t know that’s what ponderous meant” she said. 

They continued talking but I didn’t listen. I was glad to have a name. I was glad to know what they called me. I was proud to be ponderous. I always loved it when humans came near. They talked very differently from the birds. Sometimes they would eat the elderberries too. 


In the night-time I got cold. Especially in winter. All the animals would go away, either sleeping or flown off. I used to watch the northern lights every once in a while. It was my favorite thing to do in winter. I saw 1463 in total. The lights were green, faint, and helped me feel just a little bit warmer. Mostly I would just rest in the winter and wait for spring. 

In the spring I would begin to really come alive. I would grow new tips on the end of every one of my branches. The deer would eat them. A lot of things would eat them, but I especially enjoyed the deer. I felt like they were my friends and I was sharing with them. That’s what friends do. Eventually they would bring their young fawns along to eat my tips. I loved the fawns. Their faces and demeanor made me feel so free. Their mothers were all very cautious, but the fawns had not yet experienced the cruelties of the world. They were unabashed. When I was really old they helped me feel young. 

Eventually the world, nature, or something, took that away from them, just like their parents. But they were always my friends. 

In fall the male deer would fight with their heads and antlers. The bucks. The male sheep that lived around would too. The rams. They sounded like lightning. I wasn’t scared of lightning, but sometimes I was scared when the males fought in fall. It is violent. But it is also delicate and sometimes even sad. Everything was fighting in the fall. Everything was colors. I said goodbye to my leafy friends nearby. I couldn’t talk to them so much but I thought about them a lot. I always wondered if they thought about me. We all went to sleep eventually and winter would come. But in fall, I loved my valley. 

The squirrels were frantic in fall. I would share my pine cones with them sometimes. They worked very hard. I always was excited for them. I always hoped quietly that they would all survive the winter. Sometimes some of them didn’t. 


Frogs would croak in the late summer. I was never sure what they were talking about. Probably the same thing the bucks were fighting about. 

One night the frogs were croaking and there was a thunderstorm. I did not die in the same way that our eldest did. One of my biggest strongest siblings was struck by lightning. It began to spread. The way he cracked and glowed scared me. It was so bright in the dark night. Suddenly, all that I had worked on for so many hundreds of years was being burned away. I would die that day. After many hours of burning. I did not feel sad or scared after a while. I knew it would happen one day. I had thought about it. Mostly just thought about all the pine cones I had dropped over the years. All the friends I had had. All the things I had been lucky enough to feel love for. All the birds, trees, deer, bears, pigs, people, frogs, bushes, ants, beetles, and mosquitos I’d met. All the love a tree can feel. 

I thought about all the love the past generations of trees had felt. I thought about all the love the future generations had in store. I was very excited for them. 

Back to blog