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Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Ancients: Great Basin Bristlecone Pine


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File:Prometheus Wheeler.jpg

The grove in which Prometheus, a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva), cut down in 1964 at the age of 4862 years, grew, with headwall of Wheeler Peak in the Snake Range in the distance, Wheeler Bristlecone Pine Grove at Great Basin National Park near Baker, Nevada: photo by James R. Bouldin, 25 January 2006




Before the invention of clocks
you were already an old one, bent and gnarled, worn smooth by the unrelenting winds

In the high air of the driest place on earth the recorded human universe passed
unnoticed, as you continued on, slowly growing

Until the day the thoughtless, hasty
junior geographer broke a drill bit while collecting samples of your living tissue

Your remains,
then, receiving what you had through all those dreaming millennia been spared, Prometheus

That final gift,
a name





File:Prometheus tree2.jpg

The cut stump (lower left) and some remains of Prometheus, a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus Longaeva), in the Wheeler Bristlecone Pine Grove at Great Basin National Park near Baker, Nevada: photo by James R. Bouldin, 25 January 2006


File:Bristlecone Wheeler.jpg

 
Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus Longaeva), Wheeler Peak, Wheeler Bristlecone Pine Grove at Great Basin National Park near Baker, Nevada: photo by James R. Bouldin, 25 January 2006


File:Bristlecone CA.JPG

Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) on dolomite, in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of Inyo National Forest, White Mountains, Inyo County, Eastern California
: photo by Mark A. Wilson, July 2003


Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) in the Patriarch Grove of Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of Inyo National Forest, White Mountains, Inyo County, Eastern California: photo by Joe Decruyenaere, 8 August 2010


Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) in the Patriarch Grove of Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of Inyo National Forest, White Mountains, Inyo County, Eastern California: photo by Joe Decruyenaere, 8 August 2010


Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) (detail) in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of Inyo National Forest, White Mountains, Inyo County, Eastern California: photo by Clinton Steeds, 5 November 2006


File:Bristlecone swirl branch-grain bottlebrush needles.jpg

Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva), showing tightly-swirled grain on branches, and bottlebrush needles on twigs, along Discovery Trail in the Schulman Grove in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of Inyo National Forest, White Mountains, Inyo County, Eastern California: photo by Dcrjsr, 30 July 2011


A rocky hillside along the trail in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of Inyo National Forest, White Mountains, Inyo County, Eastern California: photo by Clinton Steeds, 5 November 2006


View from the trail in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of Inyo National Forest, White Mountains, Inyo County, Eastern California: photo by Clinton Steeds, 5 November 2006


Great Basin Bristlecone Pines (Pinus longaeva) in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of Inyo National Forest, White Mountains, Inyo County, Eastern California: photo by Joe Decruyenaere, 8 August 2010

12 comments:

Conrad DiDiodato said...

Patriarch Grove--

Nature clearly reverences its own.

I hope I'm as gnarled and "tightly-swirled" one day.

TC said...

Is climate change making The Ancients migrate toward the sky?

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

"you were already an old one. . .

In the high air of the driest place on earth"

Every time I've over there on 395, heading up into the Sierra, I always look east toward the White Mountains, wanting to go see them (those trees), and now I want to go see them with Johnny (before it's too late!). . . .

5.20

light coming into sky above still black
ridge, shape of crow flapping from left
foreground, no sound of wave in channel

recent past, began painting
so that they appeared

intimate, one could not ask
for more, abstraction

cloudless blue sky reflected in channel,
shadowed green slope of ridge across it

Elmo St. Rose said...

Great Basin National Park

A good location for a poetry
conclave honoring Gary Snyder

In search of Gary Snyder from
logging to the humped- backed
flute player...the ancient
bristle cone pines an American
Delphi

dalriada9 said...

http://weburbanist.com/2008/10/19/ghost-town-abandoned-city-examples-images/

Quite a contrast!

Sandra said...

wonderful...thanks Tom!!

Nin Andrews said...

The trees are telling us a tragic tale, it seems. So many signs around us. Hard not to read them.

Prometheus. I remember reading about that. So sad.
But I didn't remember the naming. Beautiful.

Hazen said...

Tom, the pictures are the best antidote to the ugly facts pertaining to Prometheus' untimely death. Or should I say, murder-by-science?

TC said...

The fate of Prometheus represents a sad parable of the intervention of the "scientific mind" (?) into the processes of nature.

The new fast world has a long reach, all that's left to the old slow world is patience.

Will Pinus longaeva outlast homo sapiens?

Now that Prometheus has been chopped down, it's very likely the oldest surviving non-clonal organism on Earth is a Pinus longaeva over on the California side, in the so-called Patriarchs Grove.

But once burnt, twice shy. Nobody's putting up any signs identifying trees by putative age. Such signs would amount to bull's eyes, for more un/scientific target practise.

God to murderer of the Ancient One:

"So why did you have to go and cut it down then, Dr. So-and-So?"

"Because we could, of course! Plus -- cool souvenirs!!"

-K- said...

It's a place I've always wanted to visit. Now more than ever.

Lally said...

As always Tom: thank you.

TC said...

Kevin, Michael,

Let's go together.

No names attached to our ancient remains!