Saturday, 20 February 2010
Whispering Pines -- Black
How often have I seen or heard the term "Whispering Pines" used as a choice of name for a cottage, house, or motel, or title of a poem! Why should those two words be so evocative – perhaps even comforting, for some people?
Experience is often the starting point for memory. The haunting cry of a loon echoing over a placid lake in the twilight hour after the sun has slipped from view, is one of those sounds that once heard and absorbed, seems to live on in memory.
What about the kark! kark! kark! of a lone crow calling out in the still air of a bright, frosty morning, followed by a distant call in response? In memory, I hear such calls now. Why? Because I’ve witnessed both the scenarios and sounds, before. I’ve looked up from a landscape of snowy white and pastel hues pierced by the protruding beige of corn stubble, my eyes searching sapphire skies for the source of those cries. And I’ve observed the crow winging its way towards reunion with its own kind, its karking fading, even as its form grew smaller in my vision, the further away it flew.
A month or so ago, the words whispering pines stole into mind, and I wondered whether I had ever heard pines whispering. Was there in fact, anything in my past experience that related to the term? But since I had serious work to do, I quickly moved on to other things.
Then, one crisp, winter night I was walking in the neighbourhood, and as I turned a corner, I heard them ... pines whispering. I slowed my pace, and looked up. There was just sufficient light from the heavenly bodies in the night sky to silhouette the tall, stately evergreens. Hardly a breath stroked my face at ground level, and yet, away above me in the tree tops a steady breeze gently coaxed a whispering song from the branches and needles. Wwhhhoooeeeshssh ... That’s it – that’s why Whispering Pines is such a favourite! When the conditions are right, it’s like a hushed conversation, a gentle song of nature.
I continued my walk, and imagined a young child, alone in his room, and a mourning widow, now alone in her bed, hearing the gentle whisper of wind through pines. They’re saying, "You’re not alone; we’re standing tall and straight, like sentinels to guard you. We’ll cut back the strong wind when it threatens your home, and stop much of the snow from piling up around you, easing your load. We’ll sing to you lullabies of comfort, when gentle breezes blow."
Nature’s lesson to me wasn’t over yet. For the thought occurred that, when a strong wind courses through trees and neighbourhoods, so much noise can be generated that gentle whispers become inaudible. And besides, amidst the bustling soundscapes of daytime traffic and human endeavour, the effect may be much the same.
I remembered how Elijah of old, after great success, became deeply distressed and emotionally depleted. He stood at a cave mouth and witnessed a great wind tearing rocks apart. This was followed by an earthquake, and then by a fire. But God ‘s personal presence wasn’t in those demonstrations of nature’s might. However, after the fire came a gentle whisper; and Elijah tuned into a message from God that resulted in recovery and renewed direction.
Whispering Pines . . . message from on high to comfort and restore.
© Peter A. Black. This article was first published in The Watford Guide-Advocate, Feb. 18, 2010.
Peter's book, "Parables from the Pond" is published by Word Alive Press.