Tag Archives: white pine

White Pine Trees and Moms

What do White Pine Trees and Moms have to do with each other?  In honor of Mother’s Day coming up, I’d like to share a story I wrote a couple of years ago that will answer that question.

White Pines are beautiful trees! These aren’t Austrian Pines that you usually find along highways and everywhere in-between. While White Pines are also common, they are much more pleasing to the eye than Austrian Pines are. White Pines are used for construction, cabinetry, natural medicinal purposes and even Christmas trees.

So I got this White Pine sapling in kindergarten–my very own tree. I found myself looking forward to many years of watching it grow in front of my eyes. As I said before, it even went with us when we moved. Shortly after the tree was replanted, however, something peculiar began to occur. This took a while to notice, but the White Pine began to take on an odd growth pattern.

Enter Major.

Apparently, once settled upon our new property, Major felt it was his duty, his mission–nay, his life’s purpose bequeathed to him by God Himself–to hike his leg and pee on the north side of that tree. He was committed. He was focused. He wasn’t letting anyone or anything detract him from what he was called to do with his life in this new place. And he saw it through to his dying day.

As a result, we noticed as the tree grew that the north side of it was developing a significant stunting in its growth. I really thought during those first few years that I was going to have my very own Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. As it matured, though, it really began to fill out. Except for the north side of it.

To this day, you can drive by the old house in Bath and see a beautiful twenty-five foot White Pine tree in the front yard.  Still with a significantly stunted upper portion on its north side, the permanent marks of a dedicated and unrelenting Flat-Coated Retriever. I think Major wanted to leave a mark, something that would endure long after he was gone. And he did just that–literally.

Keep in mind that this is the same dog who bullied a couple of young kids in the winter and gave them ball-less head gear to wear. He would take his beloved “Babe” (the female) on romantic romps in the gravel pit next door and bring her back absolutely exhausted.  (Black fur on hot days in a gravel pit…..nice.)  He even took her on a nature walk, with us in tow, and frolicked on ahead of us with his sweetheart.  They no sooner disappeared and he brought her back absolutely covered with ground bees. All I remember at that point is Mom yelling at us to turn around and run the other way. Good advice, except that dogs run faster than humans do.

So my brother and I are beatin’ feet down the trail back to the car. We look behind us only to see a dog with yellow dots all over it trotting along behind us. I don’t remember if it was Major or Babe, but the distinct memory of seeing a black dog with a smile on its face–it’s tail almost wagging as it trots along after us–has never left me (seeing that smile….it had to be Major). Thing is, I don’t remember any dogs covered with bees catching up to my brother and I. Which means that Mom probably did what moms are known to do: She put herself in the line of fire for her kids. I do seem to remember that she had been stung a few times. Thanks, Mom.

But, regardless, he was a good dog (for the most part). And his “mark” on his life spent with us lives on….

A Recap

Well, hello!

I have gone down a side trail–you might say a vacation, of sorts, from the main trail–and haven’t been able to meet up with you today like I usually am.  So since it’s been so hot lately, here’s a recap of a story I told back in the winter…about Major:

When I was in kindergarten, Mom got me a small little White Pine, about a foot tall, from our local school that was giving them out to children. We took it home and planted it in our front yard. We moved when I was in 2nd grade and made sure to take the White Pine with us when we went.

Besides having this seedling of a tree, I also grew up with my parents having two big flat-coated retrievers, a male (named Major) and a female (named Babe). The male, Major, was almost my nemesis. In the winter, when my brother and I were outside playing in the snow, we’d be having a great time until one of my parents let Major out. When he saw us and we saw him, it was the hunter eyeing the hunted. Why, you may ask?

This dog loved the snow; but even more, he loved to “pick one from the herd” and chase him down. Once he was upon his prey, he would plow him into the snow, take his stocking hat (remember as a kid when they used to come with a ball on the top, usually the same color as the hat?) and gallop off to his secret lair, snickering to himself, an air of pompous victory emanating from some cruel gene, and chew the ball off the hat. The victim would later find his hat laying abandoned in the snowy yard, covered with drool. We sometimes found the balls–and when we did, they were sadly beyond resuscitation, drool dripping from them, snow-covered and maybe some grass and dirt thrown in the mix if Major was in a good mood that day.

When we would see him coming, we’d look at each other and know what the other one was thinking: Holy crap, it’s Major! Do I stay or do I run? Can I get out of his line of fire before my brother does? Should I take the hit for him? Will I ever see this hat again? You didn’t dare let the fear of something happening to your new stocking hat drive you to start running away from Major. That only sealed your fate. No, your chances of survival were far greater if you just stood there and waited for his sadistic game to play itself out. Sometimes my younger brother would start to cry–probably because he knew he was going to lose another hat. (He lost more hats and balls to Major than I did. I do recall a time or two of choosing to run from Major in the hopes of diverting his trajectory onto my brother’s path, who was by this time either running slower than I was or was already curled up in the fetal position in the snow, whimpering and probably praying for the rapture to happen NOW, just waiting for the inevitable.)

You know what? That dog even came after us when we didn’t have any balls on our stocking hats! If there was a ball on one hat but not on the other, that just meant that all three of us knew who he was going after. And then the next time this would happen, and we’re both wearing castrated head-gear, it was anybody’s guess. Ah, such wonderful childhood memories!

The White Pine Tree

Here we are.  Back on the main trail again….

Let’s get back to that White Pine sapling.

White Pines are beautiful trees!  These aren’t Austrian Pines that you usually find along highways and everywhere in-between.  While White Pines are also common, they are much more pleasing to the eye than Austrian Pines are.  White Pines are used for construction, cabinetry, natural medicinal purposes and even Christmas trees.

So I got this White Pine sapling in kindergarten–my very own tree.  I found myself looking forward to many years of watching it grow in front of my eyes.  As I said before, it even went with us when we moved.  Shortly after the tree was replanted, however, something peculiar began to occur.  This took a while to notice, but the White Pine began to take on an odd growth pattern.

Enter Major.

Apparently, once settled upon our new property, Major felt it was his duty, his mission–nay, his life’s purpose bequeathed to him by God Himself–to hike his leg and pee on the north side of that tree.  He was committed.  He was focused.  He wasn’t letting anyone or anything detract him from what he was called to do with his life in this new place.  And he saw it through to his dying day.

As a result, we noticed as the tree grew that the north side of it was developing a significant stunting in its growth.   I really thought during those first few years that I was going to have my very own Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.  As it matured, though, it really began to fill out.  Except for the north side of it.

To this day, you can drive by the old house in Bath and see a beautiful twenty-five foot White Pine tree with a significantly stunted upper portion on its north side, the permanent marks of a dedicated and unrelenting Flat-Coated Retriever.  I think Major wanted to leave a mark, something that would endure long after he was gone.  And he did just that–literally.

Keep in mind that this is the same dog who bullied a couple of young kids in the winter and gave them ball-less head gear to wear.  He would take his beloved “Babe” (the female) on romantic romps in the gravel pit next door and bring her back absolutely exhausted (black fur on hot days in a gravel pit…..nice).  He even took her on a nature walk, with us in tow, and frolicked on ahead of us with his sweetheart–until he brought her back absolutely covered with ground bees.  All I remember at that point is Mom yelling at us to turn around and run the other way.  Good advice, except that dogs run faster than humans do.

So my brother and I are beatin’ feet down the trail back to the car, looking back and seeing a dog with yellow dots all over it trotting along behind us.  I don’t remember if it was Major or Babe, but the distinct memory of seeing a black dog with a smile on its face, it’s tail almost wagging as it’s trotting along after us has never left me (seeing that smile….it had to be Major).  Thing is, I don’t remember any dogs covered with bees catching up to my brother and I.  Which means that Mom probably did what moms are known to do:  She put herself in the line of fire for her kids.  I do seem to remember that she had been stung a few times.  Thanks, Mom.

But, regardless, he was a good dog (for the most part).  And his “mark” on his life spent with us lives on….

Let’s meet up again soon and I’ll tell you about a runaway horse!

“Major”

We’re on our way!

It’s a bit chilly, isn’t it?  I think we might get some snow soon.  Hey!  Take a look to our right, up on that hill over there.  See that White Pine tree next to that big Oak?  That White Pine reminds me of something…..

When I was in kindergarten, Mom got me a small little White Pine, about a foot tall, from our local school that was giving them out to children.  We took it home and planted it in our front yard.  We moved when I was in 2nd grade and made sure to take the White Pine with us when we went.

Besides having this seedling of a tree, I also grew up with my parents having two big flat-coated retrievers, a male (named Major) and a female (named Babe).  The male, Major, was almost my nemesis.  In the winter, when my brother and I were outside playing in the snow, we’d be having a great time until one of my parents let Major out.  When he saw us and we saw him, it was the hunter eyeing the hunted.  Why, you may ask?

This dog loved the snow; but even more, he loved to “pick one from the herd” and chase him down.  Once he was upon his prey, he would plow him into the snow, take his stocking hat (remember as a kid when they used to come with a ball on the top, usually the same color as the hat?) and gallop off to his secret lair, snickering to himself, an air of pompous victory emanating from some cruel gene, and chew the ball off the hat.  The victim would later find his hat laying abandoned in the snowy yard, covered with drool.  We sometimes found the balls–and when we did, they were sadly beyond resuscitation, drool dripping from them, snow-covered and maybe some grass and dirt thrown in the mix if Major was in a good mood that day.

When we would see him coming, we’d look at each other and know what the other one was thinking:  Holy crap, it’s Major!  Do I stay or do I run?  Can I get out of his line of fire before my brother does?  Should I take the hit for him?  Will I ever see this hat again?  You didn’t dare let the fear of something happening to your new stocking hat drive you to start running away from Major.  That only sealed your fate.  No, your chances of survival were far greater if you just stood there and waited for his sadistic game to play itself out.   Sometimes my younger brother would start to cry–probably because he knew he was going to lose another hat.  (He lost more hats  and balls to Major than I did.  I do recall a time or two of choosing to run from Major in the hopes of diverting his trajectory onto my brother’s path, who was by this time either running slower than I was or was already curled up in the fetal position in the snow, whimpering and probably praying for the rapture to happen NOW, just waiting for the inevitable.)

You know what?  That dog even came after us when we didn’t have any balls on our stocking hats!  If there was a ball on one hat but not on the other, that just meant that all three of us knew who he was going after.   And then the next time this would happen, and we’re both wearing castrated head gear, it was anybody’s guess.  Ah, such wonderful childhood memories!

Now here’s where the white pine comes in….