Snag

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In all that snow, the only spot of flame was a white pine snag.

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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.

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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.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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