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Scent of Pine

Dusty Dog Farm is located southeast and diagonally from a beautiful golf course. I often envy the wanderings of the golfers, what adventures they must have on those rolling green meadows! What a joy it would be to canter across the florescent landscape. But no. That green is meant for the two-legged.

View from rider’s vantage point  on chestnut horse with morning sun shimmering through trees that border both sides of dirt path
Christina on Cooper riding to Elm Farm on the bike path.

For the 16 years that I have been fortunate enough to live in Keene, NH, I have admired the huge pine trees dotting the golf course. Towering over the roughs and fairways they seemingly highlight the course with dignity and grace.

Over this winter past, wandering by on horseback I noticed a large group of these pines had been marked with an orange "X." The trees knew nothing of the meaning of the "X" now scoring their bark. And only later as the snow receded with ground still frozen, did it come to pass that these trees were cut down. My heart grew heavy as I saw the gradual process unfold. The landscape opened, the trees left as stumps, life shortened.

Cooper and I rode one early morning to a few of the stumps. I dismounted and counted the rings. 98 lines. 98 years. With a swing over Cooper's back, I said a passing prayer to the trees and clip

clopped over the frozen ground to the road, my brain and body heavy.

Several young evergreens amid a landscape dotted with tree stumps
Young evergreens grow amid a landscape dotted with stumps.

Days later as the ground began to thaw and sap began to run, I and Dusty Dog staff noticed a distinct smell of pine in the air, particularly on warmer, damp days. It felt odd to smell the scent of pine in the spring. Odd, beautiful and somehow misplaced. The scent of pine during spring with Christmas and winter behind us.

Shortly thereafter landscape folks came to the golf course, stumps gone, scent of pine gone, earth surface prepared for the greens. All evidence of pine trees gone.

Green fairway bordered by pine trees (photo by Keene Country Club)
Green fairway bordered by pine trees (photo by Keene Country Club)

In my mind the experience remains and folds into an example of what trauma can do to a life.

If we experience trauma, we become marked, maybe not with an orange "X," but we are marked by the experience. Some are taken down by it little by little, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Leaving only a drifting scent of what life could have been. Odd, beautiful, and somehow misplaced.

Green sprout emerging from center of ringed, wooden stump.
A green sprout emerges from the center of a stump.

One of my personal goals in the Farming For Resilience and Pathways to Resilience programs is to help those of us marked by trauma. To help build courage, gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion as strong as a pine. To help recognize trauma for what it is. And to develop enough resilience to continue to grow, despite our mark.

The scent of pine now will forever turn my thoughts on how to recognize and help those marked by trauma.

Enjoy every moment of spring unfolding.

All my best,

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