The White Pine


Through pine needles and scarlet oak leaves, I watched a sunset in 2012.  It was just after my mother had died and the strangest lightning had struck my pine on father’s day.

Mourning the loss of my mother, I watched as a trailer was brought to the Lake Harriet school parking lot in pouring rain that Friday.  It rained through the weekend, no lightning, no thunder the day it struck, just a steady rain as I heard a crack and then another.

It wasn’t until the next day when I left my house that I saw bark scattered over the walk, a strip laying on the ground and wilted ivy in a 3-4 foot radius around the base of the tree.  The inner bark was red as though it had just been opened with a knife, no burns anywhere. No charred fragments.  Just the inside of a healthy tree and a drill like incision into the living phloem of the bark and possibly the vascular cambian from the top to the bottom of the tree.

It will be two years this June since the strike. The cambian and phloem layers have healed, but the bark continues to pull away in some areas. Many of the pine’s limbs have died, the rest of the tree has been losing needles and is covered with winter burn from a very bitter winter.

Since firs often have the effect of winter burn in a severe winter, I wait to see the fate of this white pine.  It was planted in the 1950’s and grew well in this water dense area which was once a leg of Lake Calhoun.