Waiting for water to boil for tea, I sit at the kitchen table on one of the warmest days of winter. It is overcast, and the birds are faintly twittering above the neighbors’ voices, the hum of our dishwasher, and a distant plane. Away, through a break in the line of tan and brick homes, a row of closely planted pines sways back and forth in the breeze.
Closing my eyes, I can almost hear them. Sound from a recent memory fills my mind. It is the sound of the wind in the lone pine on top of the mountain.
The tree was quiet when we first stopped to rest on our mid-winter walk that day. We chose a spot on a nearby log, and, sometimes, during our respite, I would balance on our log-turned-bench to look out through the dormant woods, as if from a pirate ship at the horizon. I’d plop down again to eat another peanut-butter cracker.
The tree nearby might have been as dead as the log.
Then, almost imperceptibly, it began. So soft, it was indistinguishable from the rush of blood in my ears; so high, it didn’t register on the back of my neck. It ruffled the pine needles. It was a sustained exhalation. A long sigh that filled the tree’s branches. It was the sound of the “sea” in a seashell; captured, yet free. Not seeing, only hearing, I could tell that the tree was most definitely alive.
The kettle on the stove whistles for tea. The line of trees beyond the row of houses sways in the breeze. It is almost spring in north Georgia.