Ponderosa Pine Speaks

This is in response to beautiful Ka, at Fiesta Estrellas. She is in the process of creating a very special tree painting, and has requested answers to these 3 questions:

If you were a tree, what would you feel like?

What kind would you be?

If you could choose to make artwork to honor a tree, what format/media/style would it be

I will speak as a ponderosa pine, as theirs is the habitat in which I live. I thought about willow or oak, as they are here too, and quite meaningful, but ponderosa has spoken to me the most this week, as I have pondered these questions. My style is photography with words.

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For almost 300 years I have been standing amongst my friends. Ah, so many friends have I, who have come and gone over the course of my life. I have loved them all.

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I feel the breath of my ancestors in the soft fluttering breeze that dances with my needles, and in the gales of 90 mile an hour winds that bend me, and together we sound like the ocean.

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I feel their spirits in my roots. Their bodies have given us the nourishment to grow to be this old. They are part of the moist soil now.

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I feel the fungus, too, in my roots. Through the mycelia, we are all connected; a whole network underground. They feed us. I take in the CO2 from the atmosphere, split it into oxygen, which cleanses the air; and liquid carbon that I make into sugar for my food. Some of the carbon leaks out of my roots to feed the soil microbes and fungus, and in return, they give us nutrients that they make. It is a good relationship.

I have lost a lot of friends to drought. The last 12 years have been so dry. Other trees, little winged ones, water animals, other four- leggeds have died due to drought.

This has been a wet year.  We all feel rejuvenated.

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I am too old, and past child bearing years, but the young ones are all growing cones this year. You can smell the fragrant vanilla scented perfume in the air.  We transmit that to each other, especially during wet years when we all decide this is the year to create.

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When one lives for many years, like me, there is an awareness that grows over time. I know every inch of the soil my roots touch; all the little pebbles, the large boulders, the other roots, the fungi mycelia, the worms, the water from the creek. I know all the beings in the forest from soil microbes to hawks. I delight in them all. The ecosystem always stays in balance.

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Do you see that tree over there? The scars you see are from a porcupine.

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Now you would think that the tree might resent that animal, but we all love them.  They sing, you know.  More like happy humming. Their quills look like needles from a distance, so they just look like a clump of needles in the tree because they stay very still for a long time as the eat the cambium below the bark. Sometimes, they kill the tree. The porcupine helps us thin out, so that we are all healthier.  They also make us grow into odd shapes. There is beauty and character in imperfection.


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There is a female person who comes here often. She frequently sits, leaning against me, looking over the creek. I have cradled her with love and strength for years. She calls me Grandmother. Sometimes she collects a few of my needles to make tea to help her breathe, and for the vitamin C. She says I give her inner peace, tranquility and calm. My vanilla fragrance, she says, is like aroma therapy, invigorating her body and soul. She tells me I teach her about resilience, determination and balance; and that I remind her to rise above difficulties and to persist against all odds.

When she first saw that I had been struck by lightning last year, I could feel her saddened heart. She hugged me for a long time.

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I want to tell her that it is fine. I don’t mind at all. Death makes Life that much more precious. My girlfriend and I will die together.  We are both old. We have been standing together since we were but tender shoots.

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It is as it should be.  I will send sugar to my surviving green branches, and the squirrels will eat them and have life. I want them to live. I love how they feel on my branches, nibbling. I love unconditionally. I don’t mind giving up my life a little sooner. Squirrel goes for the sugar, and in the process, clumps of green needles fall to the ground where they are eaten by rabbits and mice. They are rich in vitamins and minerals for them. I love watching them enjoy what I can give.


My death will be slow, over a few years, as being a large tree, my sap runs slow, and leaks out not very fast. Because of the drought, my immune system was low, so being struck was a sure death sentence. Now that there is more moisture, my death will be slower, so my heartwood will continue to strengthen. I am happy about this because I will get to be a snag, so after my death my body will house birds for a long time.  I feel my heartwood is strong because I have loved deeply.

I can feel a flicker already pecking my trunk. The sound is loud, attracting a mate. The hole he has made becomes their home where they will raise little flickers.

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Next year maybe a bluebird or a chickadee or nuthatch or swallow will live in me.  I get to see all this before I die.  Then my body will continue to stand tall for them.  I am proud of that. Eventually a strong wind will knock my frame down, and the younger trees will grow on the sustenance of it, and know that their ancestor is part of them. It is a beautiful cycle.

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I am a fortunate tree, indeed, to stand so close to a creek. I so enjoy watching the beavers, muskrats, herons, geese, ducks, lizards, turtles, dragonflies and all the wetland creatures.

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I love the frogs.


They call in the rain every year, and this year, the rain heard them. There is a cleansing happening. I feel the joy from all the trees. It is good.

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The feeling of friction as the storms drag over us is invigorating, unless of course you get struck as did I, but the echoing of the thunder all the way down canyon is extraordinary, and the ensuing rain, sublime.

The feel of a tree lizard meditating is a calming thing. Then they grab an ant and chew it right there. They are such friendly little reptiles, the way they tilt their heads and listen to the female person.


She saw a baby fox today. I could tell she was thrilled. She looked up and there it was cautiously staring at her. She spoke lovingly to it and then asked if she could take its picture. She took 3. She got up because she knew it wanted to drink and wouldn’t do so with her there. The fox let out a sustained raspy bark. I could tell the female person was entranced. “Do it again,” she requested softly, and it did! She thanked the baby fox, as she thanks me every day she walks by.

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She touches my wounds and pours love into them.

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I saw her tell a younger tree how magnificent it was, and that its new pine cone clumps looked like bouquets. That tree could feel her love, and just glowed with the vibration of love.

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The baby birds are fledging now.  They are all learning their alarm calls. The whole forest echoes with peeps, chirps and squeals. It is a cacophony of liveliness.

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There has been such wonder in my life. The snow, that tickles as it melts and leaves my bark saturated,

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is melting in the higher country, and my roots are drinking deeply.
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The kiss of a butterfly, the barely felt weight of bird feet, the songs they sing; the grasses and flowers; the willows, rocky mountain juniper, oak and mountain mahogany; the deer and elk; the bear and mountain lions; the hawks and the owls; the robins nest in my branches; the kingfisher that watches for fish from its favorite branch, the crafty packrat and the coyotes So blessed am I to be witness to all of this life.

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I have a double focus. I can be aware of all of these beauties, yet float in the ethers of the Divine at the same time. I love my life. My roots curling around rock, and my arms reaching for the sky. I Am.

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After a rain, I love to bathe in the myst.

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And ah, the moon. As she rises behind me, whether day or night, she seems so close, I can feel her pull.

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I have watched this place for 300 years, and no two days have been alike.  I suppose you could say I have endurance. I have seen so much change. I have learned to love unconditionally, but not be too sentimental. Nature seeks balance for the ecosystem, and can sometimes appear ruthless. I have learned to respect this and not take it personally. I live in the moment.

I embrace the darkness and the night ambiance. Even the dead branches are symbols of death and darkness, the green needles – life and rebirth.

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As the longest day of light rises and sets, I will love the sun, as it energizes and feeds us, and thank it for its consistency and Light all of these years.

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I am grateful to be a tree.

Happy Solstice everyone!


52 thoughts on “Ponderosa Pine Speaks

  1. Pingback: UPDATE: Tree Badge is complete! | Fiesta Estrellas

  2. Dear Mary,
    I will be back to your blog to play with the porcupines, frogs, and foxes! 😀
    This is so beautiful. I thought it was interesting to note about learning not to be sentimental. I wonder if that means different things to different people. Maybe it just means (as it was written here) to be aware of the passage of time and the changes, and the comings and goings of all things. To embrace everything lightly. Aloha,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that is what it means for me.
      Sometimes also for me, to love unconditionally, I can’t get too attached sentimentally. Like watching a beloved frog be eaten by a beloved snake….it’s hard. I grieve for the frog, but I don’t begrudge the snake for living a bit longer for it. The balance. It is sort of something I work with inside myself as life and death plays out before me on a daily basis.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Me, too, Mary… there’s something special about whatever shows up in terms of emotions when we are witness. I honor that with you. Your post is beautiful (and made me chuckle a little in the best way) and I’m delighted for more to come and join with you on your blog. I am grateful to have met you. Namaste. Ka

        Liked by 2 people

      • This is something I struggle with, and yet, I know this is how life is. Many years ago, I always wanted to try to keep all beings from harm, but I also know when I was not there, the little creature I may have saved one moment, met its fate another. I have been able to send loving wishes for a safe journey beyond its life, when I see an unsuspecting being caught in the web of a spider. I have learned to be happy that the spider has been nourished, by the gift of the life of the other.

        The cycle goes ever on. I am happy to be part of it, and to be able to share the lives with brother and sister beings as they go through the dance of their own lives!


      • Really nicely said, Fimnora. If I could count all the creatures I have saved…I still do but with a different way of thinking about it. If it is caught or something – especially a human caused mishap I do, but not if it is nature based. Did you ever watch Star Trek, the next generation or Voyager? I never got into the original, but the “prime directive” sort of fits here. You know?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My beloved friend, your words, pictures and descriptions let me know that you are one with your Ponderosa. Reading this gives me the feeling that I too can be one with your beautiful Ponderosa, thank you.


    • Thank you my dear friend. When your knee heals, you will have to come up and we can be toghether one with Ponderosa. Thank you so much for your comment, and I really want to see you soon!! ❤


  4. Gracious Greetings, Lady Elder Ponderosa Pine! I found a blessing here today, when I stopped by to read. How amazing it was to be privy to your thoughts, and listen to your wisdom, and thrill to your stories! Each moment of which you spoke, brought me things I have wondered, and yet, let to more things I wonder about. I was quite excited to see how like you are, in some ways, to my beloved Eastern Pine, who resides outside , thought close to the house, enough so I can open the window and look out upon her beauty. I remember, twenty-six years ago when I was given a sprig of another Eastern Pine, which I brought home, and planted, and loved with all my heart, and place her in the ground when she was ready to take her place here. And even though I went away on and off, when I would come home, she would be taller, and more beautiful than ever.

    I thought you must have happy little tree frogs singing to you, and I wondered about how it is you feel to have a branch which no longer bears needles, chopped off – I cannot bear to do that, yet, as I listened to your story, it gave me a sense that perhaps if I simply speak my intention, that it might be okay, and might help to nourish the thriving branches which still have needles sending out more and more little ones.

    Thank you for your every moment of loving life and know that you will be remembered by another happy woman who has been lucky enough to ready your story, on this Solstice Day!

    Blessed Be!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a nice comment. Thanks! I love the image of you and the Eastern Pine. They do become good friends, do they not? No worries about cutting a dead branch. I think they are happy for the lightness, and when you talk to them about it first, it seems ok. I remember the first time I cut down a little tree for thinning purposes. Wow. It took a long conversation! The age old philisophical questions of when is the inividual more important, and when do you look at the good of the whole. Still a dilemma. Thanks for reading and commenting. It is always nice to talk with you.
      Happy Solstice. Blessed Be.

      Liked by 1 person

      • First to answer a question from above, I have not watched very much of ST:TNG, or of Voyager, though I rather loved the character Chakotay, when I happened upon an episode or two. Same with the one or two episodes of TNG. Mr. Quantum has suggested we add TNG to our viewing list. I’ll know more then.

        Yes, the beautiful Eastern Pine is a very beloved friend. I make the rounds in my back yard greeting all of Mama Gaia children, Flora and Fauna. I am happiest when I’m out there.

        Thank you for bringing my attention to the idea that pruning gives lightness where it is needed, and affords greater energy. When do you think might be a good time of year for attending this?
        When we had to have repairs done to our gutters last year, I was heart broken when they took their saws to Lady Eastern Pine’s branches, and I sent her Reiki afterward.

        Happy Solstice to you, and Blessed Be!


      • I LOVE Chakotey! Best time to cut the branch is late fall, when their sap is slowing down. Reiki is a great idea! I know they feel that. The thought of you greeting all the flora and fauna is a nice one. I always talk talk to them –
        usually out loud.


  5. This post was marvelous. It evoked great emotion in me, and indeed, I cried a bit. It was very moving, thank you for sharing it.


  6. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I do revere Her. I am glad you liked it


  7. Dear Mary,
    I needed to get a perspective to 300 yrs. in human history. I looked up who was King of England in 1715; George the 1st. I read about what England was like then compared to today and the clothing people wore then and now. Human history has changed a lot in 300 years but Sir Ponderosa has remained the same ,connected to everything, growing only in awareness of his place in God’s creation and plan.
    Seeing his world with his eyes was an awakening and thought provoking journey. His view of his environment, from his part ,in the work of the microorganisms, to the collective sound of his brothers and sisters together; as an instrument of the wind to create the music of the ocean.
    His JOY in the awareness of how his existence is dependent upon the death of others and his death bringing life to still more. is Beautiful. I’m comforted to know that he has a mate, standing beside him to comfort and support each other in the storms.
    The story would have been incomplete without the mastery of your pictures. Of which the fox was the Jewel in the Crown.To be allowed to share a moment with such a magical creature is a dream. Did you see the coyote in the same day? Sir Ponderosa Pine’s perspective of you was very telling. You are truly accepted by the wild inhabitants like a forest elf.
    Thank you once again for your inspiring blog. I will read it over and over. And please tell Sir Ponderosa and his Mate that because his story has been told, he has many more friends whose lives have been enriched by him. I would like to hear a porcupine sing. I didn’t know they do.


    • Thank you for your comment, Jenny. Yes, things have changed in the last 300 years. Think of how much they have changed in just our lifetime! Interesting that you thought of the tree as male. That never occurred to me. To me she is totally interconnected with all that is. No separation. I loved your line about the fox being the jewel in the crown. Yes, I felt privileged to have that moment. You really must hear a porcupine sing. It is very sweet. I followed one one day – actually 2 and they sang the whole time. It’s like ho hum hum hum, such a happy porcupine am I. Lol.


      • That is good. Would love to hear that. Makes me smile.. That’s funny. I thought you had referred to the tree as ‘he’ When I went back and looked again I saw that you called her Grandmother and she mentioned that she was passed child bearing. I remember reading that before, but spaced it. The tree just seemed masculine to me, weird.
        She is completely unselfish, totally about giving all of herself for and to others and consumed with love.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. The first time I heard a porcupine, I thought someone had a radio somewhere in the woods and it was slightly off station – not exactly staticy, but like singing sort of in between stations until I investigated and saw a porcupine in a tree.


  9. Fascinating, I have not heard the sound of porcupines in any nature show ,nor have I been close enough to one in the wild to hear one. Reminds me of people who hum and sing while they work. Always soothing, peaceful and happy.
    Hopefully someday I will have the opportunity to hear their song


    • Yes! Exactly! “Reminds me of people who hum and sing while they work. Always soothing, peaceful and happy.”


  10. Hahahaha! Did you mean porcupines? I have never heard a beaver sing, although listening to them talk is really really cute!!


  11. Hi Mary,

    I really enjoyed this journey through the life of a ponderosa, particularly the slow phase of dying, the way it implied a beautiful acceptance and honoring of all that was given. There was no bitterness in the reflection, no questioning as to whether or not things could have been differently. It is inspiring to touch the tendrils of loving this way that flow through your writing and images. I am inspired and moved by what you have shared here.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Michael,
      Thank you for your lovely comment. I appreciate the depth of your walk through the woods, and what you noticed. Clearly, you have a very open heart. Thank you for the follow, and I have followed you right back. I am happy for this connection.
      Take care, Michael.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Mary,

    Your lovely post brought to mind this poem by Robert Service. I hope you enjoy it!


    We sleep in the sleep of the ages, the bleak, barbarian pines;
    The gray moss drapes us like sages, and closer we lock our lines,
    And deeper we clutch in the gelid gloom where never a sunbeam shines.

    On the flanks of the storm-gored ridges are our black battalions massed;
    We surge in a host to the sullen coast, and we sing in the ocean blast;
    From empire of sea to empire of snow we grip our empire fast.

    To the niggard lands were we driven, ‘twixt desert and floes are we penned;
    To us was the Northland given, ours to stronghold and defend;
    Ours till the world be riven in the crash of the utter end;

    Ours from the the bleak beginning, through the aeons of death-like sleep;
    Ours from the shock when the naked rock was hurled from the hissing deep;
    Ours through the twilight ages of weary glacial creep.

    Wind of the East, Wind of the West, wandering to and fro,
    Chant your songs in our topmost boughs, that the sons of men may know
    The peerless pine was the first to come, and the pine will be the last to go!

    We pillar the halls of perfumed gloom; we plume where the eagles soar;
    The North-wind swoops from the brooding Pole, and our ancients crash and roar;
    But where one falls, from the crumbling walls shoots up a hardy score.

    We spring from the gloom of the canyon’s womb; in the valley’s lap we lie;
    From the white foam-fringe, where the breakers cringe, to the peaks that tusk the sky;
    We climb, and we peer in the crag-locked mere that gleams like a golden eye.

    Gain to the verge of the hog-back ridge where the vision ranges free;
    Pines and pines and the shadow of pines, as far as the eye can see;
    A steadfast legion of stalwart knights in dominant empery,

    Sun, moon and stars give answer; shall we not staunchly stand,
    Even as now, forever, wards of the wilder strand,
    Sentinals of the stillness, lords of the last, lone land?


    • Thank you so much Cnawan! This is a beautiful poem by Robert Service. I don’t know of him. Thank you for this gift. They are ancient trees and have been here a long time, as he well captures. Beautiful images of strength, he portrays. He has confidence that they will be here until the end. I hope so. I fear for them at times, knowing how humans mistreat them. Without them, we cannot live, so maybe they will outlast us! Have you smelled the vanilla fragrance of them on a summer day or gazed up through their needles to a blue sky? Thank you for coming to my site. I hope you come back often, as I will to yours.


      • I have never had the pleasure of scenting their vanilla fragrance, though so many time enjoyed the fragance of other pines and balsam firs elsewhere around the country. You might find a similarity in sensibility in Robert Service’s writing with that of Jack London’s – They were born 2 years apart and so are of that same era. Interesting, though, I just noticed that Robert Service died the day before the day that I was born. Never knew this before. Rather uncanny…… as I have always deeply resonated with his perception and sentiments about wilderness.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I will have to look them both up! Thanks. I have to say that balsam fir might be my favorite most scent in the whole world. I have a little balsam pillow that helps me sleep at night. As far as the vanilla, you have to actually hug the tree to smell it. Haha.

    How interesting finding out right now that Robert Service died the day before you were born. Perhaps some of his writing skill was left behind for you to walk into.

    Thank you for your reply.


  14. Mary this was beautiful!! As always you have truly spoke the language of the trees. Choosing which tree I would want to be was difficult because I love them all. After thinking about it for a bit I decided if I were a tree it would be a tall Redwood so I could reach up to the sky and grow tall and strong protecting the earth beneath me.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. That sounds nice, being a Redwood. I can see you as one. Sounds like you – reaching for the sky and helping people who need you. You would be all amongst your long time friends enjoying the ocean myst, the ferns and perhaps faeries and gnomes. That would be lovely, as are you.


    • Hey Trish (and Jeremy too)! I just saw this comment. Not sure how I missed it. So glad you stopped by. It is heart warming to see you here. I love your blog and seeing what is going on at your farm. It’s beautiful. Not only are you making a success of permaculture and organic farming business, but also educating kids to love it as well. In your beautiful slice of heaven, you are helping heal the planet. I woud love to see it, as I would love it if you stopped to see uson your next trip through NM. Take care Trish, and thanks again for being here in cyber ponderosa place and leaving a comment.
      Peace –


  16. Pingback: Walking a Path of Blessings in Nature #Blesstival – 2016 | Walking my path: Mindful wanderings in nature

  17. Oh Mary this is so beautiful. I’ve bookmarked it and have returned again and again because it fills my heart so. You are such a beautiful soul and I’m glad you live among such beauty as well – sustaining and nourishing each other endlessly.


    • Aw Deborah,
      You are so kind. You are a beautiful soul. I’m so glad we have found each other here in this cyber community.
      Peace to you today, and may kindness run rampant!


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