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Take the White Pine Tree!

Yes. Take the white pine! It is standing in my brother’s back yard. It is ugly. It is pathetic. It has passed its prime, limbs akimbo and broken. When I look at it out the back window, I think, “oh, really, c’mon, it needs to go!” But, someone could look at me and say the same thing.

The tree has lived a good life and has sheltered other living things along the way. Maybe, I am not being fair. I am getting older and creakier too; got the grey hairs, the stiff limbs. Should I be taken away? I have deviated just a moment to wonder if I have done the sheltering that the white pine has? I will attempt to that answer on another day.

What is it about living here that so enthrals us no matter what the season? Of course, the River. It occupies the entire space of the North Country so absolutely, so majestically, that we might forget there is much else to consider. For instance, take the people. Take the rocky shores and shoals. Take all those wonderful islands! …and getting back to the subject at hand, take the lowly white pine.

Far from taking it away from my brother’s property, far from ignoring its presence here in the north along the River, I would say yes, for instance, take the white pine! As you gaze upon the wondrous scenery which surrounds us, think what it might be that so characterizes this landscape for us. Have you ever seen the works of the Canadian painters, called “The Group of Seven?”

Look at the white pine through the eyes of those northern painters. Here’s what they see: a great and sweeping collective landscape that leans in unison to the east. They see silhouettes and misshapen limbs, marching in a tilted line across the land and water. They see stands of pine clinging ever to the scant soil which covers the bedrock. In turn, because artists have raised our awareness, we get to sense and feel the weather which haunts our world east of Lake Ontario.

You can move away, and as long as you bring a painting of the River landscape, you will see those white pines and feel this landscape too. But don’t move away. Walk around outdoors and take a look for yourselves at that white pine tree. Take a look at how it describes single handedly, what our world up here is all about. It marries the islands and rocky shores we so love with the chop on the River as the water is blown east by the wind.

The white pine doesn’t need to be anywhere but where it is, rooted, leaning, limbs askew and fallen, living there strong and loving its place on the land. If we’re observant, we can gain new appreciation for how such things as this give our North Country its special character. Yes, for instance, take the white pine.

By Susan Schongalla

Susan Schongalla is a resident of Thousand Island Park.  She has written what she calls, "every day" articles for the “Thousand Islands Sun,” and she and her husband Doug, travel the world over when they leave the Park in the late Fall.   Susan has written about their escapades in several “TI Sun” articles over the past two years and we look forward to experiencing 2017 travels this coming winter.

Posted in: Nature
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Dorothy Sedock
Comment by: Dorothy Sedock
Left at: 8:25 AM Thursday, September 15, 2016
And an artist would say "Take that white pine and paint it"! The magic of the white pine is not just to look but to see it. Thank you for a lovely article that reflects some of the reasons we have been visiting the 1000 Islands for many years and continue to do so.
Deane Parkhurst
Comment by: Deane Parkhurst
Left at: 8:04 PM Friday, September 16, 2016
Beautiful essay Susan and thank you for echoing why so many of us hold the 1000 Islands close to the heart. I remember that tree. It lives behind a house once owned by my parents. Well on in years they took on a project seemingly impossible. An old building mistreated beyond measure. But with a dedication probably not found in many today they did the impossible. Age and disability made in necessary for them to abandon their restored T I Park home and join us in Kansas of all places. I am so pleased that you now have position of "Grandma's Cottage" and your brother a place brought back to livability by my parents.