An Open Letter to the Pine Tree in My Front Yard

An Open Letter to the Pine Tree in My Front Yard
Pine (sanawbar) tree, from a 1717 CE Turkish version of the Wonders of Creation by Zakariya ibn Muhammad Qazwini. Via the Walters Collection.

By Janine Annett

Dear pine tree in my front yard,

When I first moved into my house, the guy doing the home inspection suggested I take you down.

“That huge pine tree is awfully close to the house,” he said.

“Oh, but it’s so beautiful,” I responded naively. “I can’t just cut down a perfectly healthy tree.”

I think I might have heard you chuckle a little, but I chalked it up to my overactive imagination.

I trimmed you, rather than cut you down. Do you know how expensive it is to trim a tree? I probably could have gone to Europe with the money I spent. And if you want to remove a tree? It can cost thousands of dollars to remove a large tree, and you, sir/ma’am (because apparently, pine trees have both male and female pine cones), are an exceedingly large tree. That’s not a judgment. It’s just a fact.

My neighbor told me that one of the people who lived in this house several decades ago actually planted a pine cone in the soil right next to the house, and grew you on purpose. If I could invent a time machine and go back in time to stop this person from doing this, it would probably cost less than paying to have you removed. Did you know the guy who runs the local tree removal service has an in-ground pool in his backyard, in an area where no one else has an in-ground pool? That’s how much tree removal costs.

I had no idea how much time and effort I would spend sweeping and vacuuming up pine needles that get inside my house. Somehow, at any given time, there are approximately 9 billion pine needles in my house. You also love to drop hundreds and hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of pine cones in my yard. I understand you’re just trying to reproduce successfully, but if we let that many new pine trees grow in the yard, it would destroy the house and render me and my family homeless. Also, my dog likes to chew on the pine cones, which can’t be good for him. If it was, someone would have monetized it and sold it in pet stores already like they did with deer antlers.

Apparently, pine trees can live 100-1,000 years. That’s just great. Good for you! Guess you don’t need to purchase any multivitamins and then try to remember to take them.

By the way, my car is covered in sap (and also acorn dents) from some of your other tree friends across the street, so the resale value of my car has gone considerably below the Kelley Blue Book Value, despite the car’s low mileage. So I’m really starting to re-think this whole “tree hugger” thing.

I know trees are good for the environment. I understand you absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Photosynthesis is a marvel—at least from what I remember from my high school biology class. I have no doubt that you’re home to many birds. Perhaps some squirrels live in you, and maybe even some bats. But you definitely house insects; there seem to be many yellowjackets invading my house lately (maybe they’ve hitched a ride on some pine needles).

I recently learned that pine trees can produce a “stress crop,” which is an explosion of pine cones in the upper branches that then fall from the tree. I don’t know what you have to be stressed about! It’s not like you have, say, a hefty mortgage and a large tax bill on an older house that needs a lot of work done (while being threatened by a large tree) while you also need to save for your small pine cone’s college education and your own retirement while earning a modest salary.

And now, you’re swaying in the wind during a rainstorm—again, perilously close to my house.  I can deal with the constant thunk of the pine cones falling, but I am politely asking you to please not take down a power line or break a window. If you fall down onto my house, that’s it. You’re headed for the lumber yard.

So watch it, tree. Because believe me, I may have once been in the environmental club, but now I’m willing to protect my home and family at all costs. I will tear you limb from limb with my bare hands — okay, not really, because you’re honestly huge and much stronger than I am, even though I faithfully lift 3-pound weights occasionally. But I swear, I am *this close* to calling the tree removal guy to get a quote for removing you. Even if it means he’s going to fly his entire family to Europe, first class, and then retire early.



Janine Annett is a writer who lives in New York. 

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