Pines

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Travelling south along I-16 toward Statesboro, Georgia, for the first time, I noticed the smell even though my windows were rolled up tight. Like Christmas. Later, the campus twisted in circles; I asked my administrator where to find the transportation building and was told to take a left when I got to the pines. Which ones? There are pines everywhere. She laughed, and gave better directions.

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Longleaf: they grow up to 120 feet tall and have a deep and extensive root system. Although I live under pines, I am not as rooted. The place I consider home is 700 miles away from where I spend almost all of the year now.

To pine for: according to the Oxford English Dictionary, one definition is “to yearn; to languish with desire, to hunger for something; to long eagerly.” In Shakespeare, Juliet pined for Romeo.

Longleaf: they drop large cones ranging anywhere from five to twelve inches in length, the largest of the southern pine. On the morning before driving home for Winter Break, I gathered a plastic bagful from my back and side yards then tucked it into the corner of my car’s trunk.

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Back in Georgia, I’ve been putting out trays of wild bird feed and black oil sunflower seeds.  In addition to the sparrows in the afternoon and cardinals at dusk, squirrels visit my backyard daily. Sometimes I slather barren cones with peanut butter, roll them in the mixture, and hide them in different locations. The squirrels are quick to find and carry them away to their nests.

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Longleaf: (Pinus palustris) common names—Longstraw pine, Southern Yellow pine, Longleaf Yellow pine, Swamp pine, Georgia pine.  Different from the pines found in the forest behind my mother’s house or the evergreens in Germany, home of the modern Christmas tree.

To pine for: another definition, one considered archaic or rare is “to lament, mourn (a loss).” In Milton, the Devil pined his loss of Virtue. 

Longleaf: named for the bright green, flexible needles that can grow anywhere from six to eighteen inches long. These needles are held together in tufts at the ends of the branches. The number of needles bundled together is usually between three and five—but can be as few as two.

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My mother lives on Pine Oak Lane, but her home is an ocean’s distance away. She speaks to her sister several times a month on the phone. My aunt lives, like the rest of this branch of the family, in a small town in the northern part of  Bavaria. I don’t speak to my mother quite as often. Even though I enjoy the place where I live, the pining is too much.

 

Photo By: Christian Johannesen

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About Author

Although Janet claims Memphis as home, she has lived in Georgia for the past four years. She earned her MFA from Georgia College in Milledgeville and now she’s a Limited Term Assistant Professor at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. Her work has appeared in Crack the Spine, Gravel, Foundling Review, and others.

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