Saturday Short: What We Learn from the Pine

photograph of a pine branch with rain droplets

“What do we learn from the pine?”

I sighed. There were two kinds of questions that came from my mentor. The first, I never minded. These questions were straightforward, easy to answer as I was good at memorizing the various properties of plants and their uses, the meanings of different bird calls, and what the clouds foretold in the morning sky.

The second kind of questions, I minded. I minded greatly. While I was good at remembering practical things, philosophy and moral theories were not my strong suit. I was too literal and my mind didn’t bend those ways.

Perhaps if I ignored the question, my mentor wouldn’t keep asking.

“What do we learn from the pine?” my mentor asked again.

I looked up at her and stifled a sigh. The pine was beautiful. Its sap was useful for so many things, as were its needles and bark. The pines beside us were covered in water droplets from the last rain. While stunning, it didn’t jog my memory.

“I don’t know. What can we learn?” I asked, trying to head off a long, frustrating time.

My mentor smiled, “That’s what you’re here to find out.” Then she turned and went back to harvesting tubers, waiting for me to figure it out. She’d be waiting for a while.