15 June 2011

For my love of coniferophyta, I cut down a privet that was rather aggressively abutting a pine tree in Haig Park. The privet was just beginning to fruit. I went to the trouble of getting a permit signed by Bentley Hughes Aitchinson Esquire IV (who can not spell very well). This was a challenge on a public holiday and it cost me 3s6d. I was most dissapointed that nobody asked to see my license for operating a hand saw.

What it is in the pine that calls to me so strongly I can not confirm, but I love to photograph them. A good description of pines was written by John Worscestor in the late nineteenth century:

The pines, therefore, represent the principles of personal independence and the right of seclusion, in regard to natural, mental, and spiritual possessions. They are principles which, among Northern nations at least, are of all principles most vehemently defended. They are the principles which brought our forefathers across the ocean to enjoy the freedom of the New England forests; and which they expressed, more exactly than they intended, by stamping the figure of a pine tree upon their first-coined shillings. Probably a like association, with only a dim perception of its meaning, made a pine tree the banner of a Scottish clan. The Greeks worshipped Poseidon, called by the Romans “Neptune,” as the “ruler of the sea, and as the first to train and employ horses” (Murray, p. 62). His temple stood in a pine grove, upon the Isthmus of Corinth, and the prize of the Isthmian games, celebrated in his honor, was a wreath of pine; apparently as a sign of independence of thought.

There is an undeniable sense of gloom in pine woods, which characterizes also an excess of personal independence; and, on the other hand, there is a restfulness in their solitude, which represents the enjoyment of needful seclusion. As the resin of the sap, so inflammable and hot, represents the zeal which enters into the idea of independence, the sugar which often accompanies it represents the natural sweetness of the same. The edible seeds of some species represent the duty of attaining and securing some kinds of independence. But as this is a serious duty only in relation to matters of conscience and religion, a few of the nobler pines only have seeds which are of any importance as food. The habit of the pines of dropping their lower branches as they grow older, and, except in a few poorer species, never sending up new shoots from the stump, represents the usual decrease of care for matters of external independence as we mature, and the transfer of the sensitiveness to matters of conscience and of interior life. That the wood of the tree with such a representation should be easily wrought into boxes, doors, clapboards, shingles, and many forms of protection and seclusion, seems perfectly natural. The name “pine,” as it occurs in our English Bible, is probably a mistranslation, and the pine does not seem to be really mentioned in the Word, unless it is included in the most general sense of the cedar; which is not unlikely, as it is a conspicuous evergreen upon Mount Lebanon, and is nearly akin to the cedar both spiritually and naturally.

Worcestor wrote a Bible dictionary dedicated to animal definitions, therefore Bacchus does not rate a mention.

The photo is a female strobilus as can be read from the life-cycle of a pine. More to follow on strobili.

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