About forty years ago we bought several ponderosa pine seedlings from a local Boy Scout troop, specifically from our friend Jack Pierson who was a Boy Scout leader at that time. We planted them along our south property line and then ignored them for years. You see, planting and caring for trees was way down on our list of priorities for we had a house to build, a huge project that occupied our every moment when we weren't working for Union Manufacturing. To be honest, building our house occupied more than a few moments while we were working for Union Manufacturing! But we bought and planted the trees to support the Scouts and because we had just purchased three acres of land that cried out for trees.
Over the years we planted more trees and even remembered to water them from time to time for you can't depend on our piddly 12 inches of annual rainfall to keep trees alive. Of those pine seedlings only one survived; it not only survived but grew to be the tallest tree on our place. The roots must have tapped into the irrigation ditch a few feet from the fence even though the ditch is lined with concrete near the tree.
A few years ago our electric utility company pointed out that branches of the tree were scraping against the power line and needed trimming so we watched as the men in the bucket cut the offending branches. They didn't cut the top out of the tree, thank goodness, and it has continued to grow.
I call it our Jack Pierson Tree not only because we bought it from Jack but because it's tall and stately, just like Jack. We water it regularly now, finally recognizing the treasure that it is. This fall many of the needles turned brown and gave us a scare as to its health for we've read about the pine bark beetle and the destruction it is causing to the pines in the mountains to the west of us and to many of the trees in our immediate area.
I photographed the Jack Pierson Tree today knowing that those brown needles are an indication it is struggling but hoping the tree is strong enough to shrug off the threat and continue to thrive for decades to come.