03-23-17 Good Bones

By Scott Shephard

Meet "Big Boy," a ponderosa pine that, even at the end of its life, stands tall and proud. I can't tell you who named him but my guess is that it was my father-in-law Clint, who along with my mother-in-law Glenyce, were the masterminds of the home away from home we built from scratch in the Black Hills that we have always referred to simply as "the Cabin."

"The cabin" is part of the heart and soul of our family and has been for almost 40 years. Big Boy, who lives just off the very edge of our property on Forest Service land, is too. We visit him when we stay at the cabin and two of our beloved family pets, Maxie and Polly, have their final resting places in the shadow of this huge tree. You can't tell from this photo but this tree is huuuge. At the base, the circumference is easily 12 feet - it would take two of me to completely embrace him. (Yes, I've hugged Big Boy. But I felt inadequate when I've done so.)

I am no expert but from having seen other cross sections of big trees felled in the Black Hills, my guess is that Big Boy could easily be over 200 years old. And it was with great sadness that a few years ago, when the pine bark beetle infestation began to decimate huge swaths of trees in the Black Hills, we noticed that Big Boy was under attack. But surely a tree that had lived through the presidencies of Hamilton and Lincoln and Kennedy and who had survived WWI, the Great Depression and the Vietnam War, could fend off a little bug?

But, as you can see, the bug prevailed. This tree will probably stand for many more years and I'm OK with that. The tree, even in death, is marvelous and beautiful. And, yes, Big Boy has good bones.

Phantom 4 FC330 1/150s f/2.8 ISO100 3.61mm (35mm eq:20mm)

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