In all that snow, the only spot of flame was a white pine snag.
In the white pine’s former life, its sap, trickling down from woodpecker holes, would’ve been the one thing close to white. Now, the woodpeckers can drill all they want – the wells have run dry. Not that that’s what they’re after, of course. And not that the sap has left the wood: that’s why the tree lingers for so many decades, wonderfully well preserved.
A pine knot is like a cross between an eye and a knuckle bone, the last part of the tree to succumb to rot. Pine knots go off in a fireplace like firecrackers – that’s how full of life they still are. This isn’t just hyperbole: dead snags harbor more living things – fungi, molds, bacteria, invertebrates – than a living tree every could. It’s not death they embody, but a different kind of life.