A lone Norfolk pine, standing ramrod still, greets me every morning at home. Like a lone enemy sentinel, it defies the Benguet pine forest surrounding it daring “I may be alone, but more than enough for all of you”.
Of course the Benguet pine trees scoff at him, paying him no mind ignoring the alien. But just the same, the Monterey, every morning, holds the morning against the sky’s silhouette.
But the challenge is thrown to humanity. Not against its conifer cousins.
It watches the sky above shift from pink to white to grey to blue, from dry to wet to blown to still.
Each evening its skeletal shape fades into dark as dusk is pulled over the land – except with a strong moon, like last night, when every branch and nest became an etching on the deep blue infinity of the cold night sky.
This tree has become something of a companion, a constancy. Every day.
Without realizing it I have accepted it as part of my environment when I limp to my garden each day, almost in the same way as I accept – and expect to see – the window, the mirror, the floor, the door, the bouganvilla outside the terrace and my Benguet pine forest.
Despite its young age and beauty, and its effortless embrace of rook colony and resting Martinez (myna), it has a singularity and isolation that stir in me a sense of melancholy.
When I look at this tree I also see the lemon trees below it. I wish there were other norfolk trees next to it. I don’t want it to be lonely, as I sometimes am. I want it a part of a wider woodland. Its solitary life is much like mine, its bareness emphasizing its separation from others of the same seed stock.
I planted this tree wanting it to be a mother tree one day. One that could provide seeds for the future. It has survived 15 summers and can live for another 400 summers or so. My age and achievements pale as to how long this tree will live and as to what it can do.
I recall the word field “fell”, I hope this tree will be a survivor – but in a sad way. Yet some other isolated trees that have caught our eyes in the uplands carry less melancholy and more pride: they proclaim strength and resilience in landscapes where harsh winds and rain and rocky earth, as well as grazing animals, challenge them.
They have grown in areas where their beginnings were dependent on a cluster of factors, on the tiniest probability of success.
What’s the chance of a single seed dropped by a bird finding the right bit of earth, at the right time? Of a tiny seed clinging on, pushing down and then up? Of a sapling surviving, and keeping going, year upon year, to become a sturdy adult tree that now surveys the land, witnesses the passing seasons?
What’s the chance of humans, surviving without trees, choking under their own pollution, filth, greed and mentality of development?
The strong trees represent survival in the face of adversity, and symbolize the value of keeping sacred, nature, in the wider world. They have their own quiet beauty and are places for reflection, if you were to take the time to walk to them, and rest.
We symbolize nothing in the universe, except death and destruction. All of humanity, against a single tree that can provide our basic needs, we can’t survive without, is literally an understatement.