Night in the Forest: A Pine Tar Parable


The place: a pine forest in Upstate New York

The time: the second hour of a day in spring

As gentle as an angel’s breath, or as placid as a cherub’s fart, a breeze comes to tease the hardwoods, tickling the needles and nudging the cones as it goes. The wind, it shushes, the hush cut through with a warbler’s trill and the trill cut through with what seems a louder fart. And yet the forest knows, as only old growth knows, that this is not an ethereal toot but, rather, the creaking of a tree – a creaking, alas, that mimics the sound of Don Zimmer’s knees the last time he came for a hike.

In the moonlight the pines are mighty but somehow subdued, more vulnerable, less majestic, like old Norse heroes who are now but ghosts of the boreal night, or faded sluggers seated, shoulders slumped, before a congressional subcommittee. And yet among them one tree towers, its crown piercing the sky until it punctures the predawn heavens, through which aperture the Lord gazes down on His Yankees to make sure, upon threat of natural disaster, that they appear on national TV at least five nights per week, preferably six, especially if playing the Sawx. Content that this is so, the Lord rolls over and goes back to sleep, in which peaceful slumber He dreams of Soriano dingers and good Teixeira health, and C.C.’s return to No. 1 form, and, sure, why not, a fair shake for Ichiro and, yes, of course, a simpler way to say “Yangervis,” and, finally, just the right gift for The Captain’s going-away.

“I wonder what he’ll get me,” muses the Lord, his thoughts confused by Morpheus.

And as the Lord begins to snore the trees rustle more, a commotion rendered less from wind, it seems, than from the spirit of sovereign things. At the center of it all the tallest tree presides, ascendant, powerful, even prime in its outward violation of this cooperative ecology, the trunk boastful and the limbs in full bumptious plume.

But still the big tree creaks.

The hour moves on and the tree stands taller, as though it has won the day, and yet the others are stirring, unbowed. One tree bends to the big tree, then, and with the longest needles of its longest branch it brushes from the big tree’s trunk a small but glaring smudge of Michael Pineda. And the tree falls. And it does make a sound.

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John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.

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Harvey Fatch
Harvey Fatch

Bad news: pines are softwoods.