Whenever I wander into pines, either a natural forest or state park or a grove that some landowner planted years ago, I feel a sense of secluded comfort, even with houses and rural roads nearby. Pines grow close and they grow tall, and if you walk among them, or through them, they will protect you from snow and wind and the rough sounds of modern life. The needles on the floor pad your steps as you go, and there’s always the familiar spicy-pine aroma, even in winter. I used to feel that secluded comfort, if only fleetingly, during hikes to Father’s Day Creek in Pennsylvania.
On the day after Christmas, I walked among Joe Meyers’ 45-year-old pines at the invitation of his widow, Lee. She wanted me to see what Joe had planted as saplings in rows at the top of the hill behind the rancher they built in Freeland, in northern Baltimore County, back in the 1970s. There was nothing but a hayfield there at the time. Joe raised those trees from pups and took good care of them.
He’s not here to ask, but I’ll bet the pine grove was Joe’s spirit-home, the place where he felt most in touch with the universe. I’m guessing that, when he walked among them, on a winter afternoon, with a wind rising, he felt the same secluded comfort I did — protected from the cold stabbing air, insulated from all the rattle and hum — even with his house and garage just yards away. Apologies to Robert Frost: One could do worse than be a planter of pines.