While we are The New Leaf Journal, our focus on perennially virid content leads us to appreciate trees and leaves of all ages. I read an interesting Atlas Obscura article about very old Bristlecone pine trees in Nevada. From the article:
Twisted and chiseled over time by the elements, the trees have survived the harshest of living conditions, outliving historic empires and ice ages and catastrophic climate events. Their almost mythical ability to survive in these environments is their secret to longevity.
What do we mean by longevity?
Nearly 5,000 years ago, Pinus longaeva took root in the subalpine regions of the Great Basin. They’ve been there ever since.
These are indeed very old trees.
While I learned about Nevada’s Bristlecone pine trees in the article, a thought occurred to me. My New Leaf Journal colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, is a professional musician and guitar luthier. He combined his interests into a 2021 article on the virtues of old guitars. The esteemed Mr. Gurbo offered several reasons why old guitars sound better than new guitars (I will take his word and the for it). One of Victor’s reasons:
Older wood sounds better because of how wood dries over time. As wood air dries, the sound of a guitar improves. The moisture in the wood dissipates, the body becomes lighter, and the wood becomes stiffer. This all comes together to make a pleasantly resonant instrument. New freshly cut wood has the opposite qualities.
Victor likes guitars made from old wood. The world’s leading violin doctor concurs with respect to violins. What would they think of 5,000 year-old wood?
(Since those neat Nevada trees ought to be protected, we can leave the question in the realm of thought experiments.)
I published one article that suggests a less ominous idea for Nevada’s Bristlecome pines. In 2021, I discussed two English-language descriptions of the Japanese Noh drama, Takasago. There, the pine tree was evergreen and a motif for the eternal love of the drama’s dramatic personae. I offer the following quote from Frank Rinder’s description of Takasago:
Their love was always in its spring. The ‘waves of age’ furrowed their brows, but their hearts remained young and tender, green as the needles of the pine.