When The Old Pine Fell

December’s precipitation pelts the glass of my Volvo sedan. The worn rubbers of the wipers glide across the glass like a violinist in their tuning hour as Bob Dylan’s gravely voice drones over the stereo, cutting in and out, clear then muffled, between each redwood grove. The sun is hidden now, the land dark, and I am on my way back home.

There is something breathtaking, unsurpassable and unforgiving about Oregon. The moment I cross the border from Humboldt County and into the deep rolling coastline of Gold Beach, a breath of fresh air fills my lungs, resuscitating me like a salt-water fish back in the ocean after months of pond water. Growing up I took the richness of the land for granted, unaware that my backyard was unlike any other child’s playground.

This year is different than those that came before.

My mother informed me they lost the old pine tree. The tree that started as a small stick in the mud when my parents bought the house some thirty years ago; the tree that grew to be the shade for our chicken coup, and the warning line at our property's edge; the tree that served as my childhood refuge- gone.

It fell in a majestic Pacific Northwest storm. I grieved from nature’s funeral and anticipated what projects my father would have on the band saw for the deceased wood. Maybe a new dining table and bench or perhaps a bed frame. Whatever it would become, there was no denying the wood cut deep into nostalgia and its golden grains will serve in a new life worthy a new memory.

Top image: Florence, Oregon estuary. Bottom image: My father, Dave, examining the fallen tree.