Diamond Pines

The pine tree. Second base? From yesterday’s post? I remember stealing Dads hammer and nails from his “shop”, an old dirt floored garage that may have been a carriage house back before the automobile, and driving quite a few nails into the old pine before moving on and loosing the hammer when I either ran out of nails or became bored with tree nailing. The reason I remember it was I had to go find Dad’s hammer for him when he next needed it. That meant retracing the steps I took losing it with my immediately older brother helping in the remembering part. Starting with all the nails I’d driven into that old dirt floor. After the pine tree we found it by the old walnut directly on the other side of yesterday’s post’s red cedar.

Of course the red cedar hadn’t been transplanted yet back when I went on my tree nailing spree. The cedar may be nail free. But I doubt it given all the nieces and nephews who followed. Not to mention the three children we’re raising and the three we’ve already raised here, one of them a boy like me. Fifty or sixty other cedars have been transplanted around the building site as windbreaks since this cedar came in from the road. Some by me in high school but most by my younger brother after I’d left home. We would find the cedars growing wild along roadsides in ditches in the surrounding countryside when they were little enough to spade out by hand and carry home in a car trunk. Now they’re two and three stories high and simply beautiful.

As is that pine tree. I know it’s dead but the standing dead tree that’s lost the needles but not the branches has a beauty all it’s own. Occasionally a hawk or an owl can be seen resting on it’s bows and taking in the scene. Once upon a time it was part of a three way number nine wire clothes line that ran from it to the previously mentioned old walnut the over to another pine of the same genus (aka third base) and then back to second base,¬† the pine tree first mentioned. Off towards the house was home base. Right in front of the oft broken hall window. Until they put the new basement in, then we’d break the new basement window directly below the hall window. Today a sugar maple from grandpa’s yard up in Harlan stands on home base and balls don’t make it past.





There’s a tree outside the window. A western red cedar. The window¬†frames it perfectly from the chair I’m sitting in. Reaching what I would call it’s early adulthood I can remember when it was transplanted there by my father when I was just a boy. My brothers and I used it to mark the end zone when we would play football. After a touch down we used it for the uprights to kick our extra point kick. Seven points. I could jump over it back then. I wish I could now but I can only fly in my dreams. The tree is as tall as a three story building now. I swear it’s nearly that wide as well. It provides quite a screen between the house yard and the field and road beyond. Not far away stands the remnent of the old pine we used to use for second base when we played baseball. It died six or seven years ago and I haven’t had the heart to bring it down yet.

The same can’t be said of all the trees that grow wild on the farms. If not for eternal viligence the trees would take this country back over. They grow anywhere. A corn / soybean crop alternation keeps them at bay out in the farm fields around here if for no other reason than we cut beans with a cutterbar at ground level. It’s hard to be a tree if you’re getting mowed clean off every other year. It’s easy to be a tree anywhere else. Modern ways have all but removed the natural prairie fires that kept the trees at bay in the past before Europeans showed up. Today we keep order with hatchet, ax and saw. And bulldozer.



To plant or not to plant, that is the question. Back when my brother was the one making the decision he once said,”Learning to farm is easy, simply look across the fence and see what the neighbors are doing.” As farms become larger and more of them turn into grain only operations the fences are going and sections are growing. So nowadays you have to look across the road. If the county hasn’t abandoned it.

Once a bridge gets closed around here the road is usually tagged Level B or C and the locals are on their own. Unless the remaining road has a residence (occupied house) the gravel is seldom renewed and the path is seldom graded by the county. As traffic goes around the roadway will regrow with grass and or nearly unnavigable gullies if the grade’s steep enough. I know, I’ve been stuck on more than one of these often hidden roads. Old roadways are one of my things I guess.

There’s nothing more interesting than an old railroad bed. The remnants of many are getting harder and harder to find as bulldozers get around to reclaiming the last stretches to crop ground. Gotta pay the rising taxes. After filling back up with trees some are well enough camouflaged to be mistaken for old growth trees, often hiding an old culvert on a raised section or a cut through a hill. And only the locals know they are there. Except for the ones near a town. They are often converted into bicycle/pedestrian trails and enjoyed by many.

Hit the trail. That’s what I’m about to do. As soon as the daughters still living at home have rounded up the cattle and I have the hot wires mended and snapping hot I’m going to go “look across the fence” and see what the neighbors are doing. Nowadays that means driving around to the various farms they may be working on today. If all I see is parked equipment I think I’ll have my answer. As they rolled out the door the daughters said it was raining. The three may need a jacket. Even sprinkles make for no drying. It’s not the distance as much as it’s the direction that we’re rooting for. Last evening it was getting close. We shall see. I’ll let you know next post. Maybe.

Unless I see you on the trail …….