Fragrant Quote for December 24th, 2012- A TRIBUTE TO THE EVERGREENS BY FRED MYRON COLBY

Die Gartenlaube (The Garden Arbor)


POETS rave about the delights of spring, the glories of autumn, and the luxuriant magnificence of summer. But who has ever talked about the flora of winter? Yet there is nothing so beautiful as a winter landscape. There is a purity and a grandeur about it that the summer landscapes lack. That sensuousness of sound and color is gone, but the air is full of ozone, and the delicate aroma of the pines and the cypress trees. • Even the slumberous whisperings of the needle-laden boughs, or the soft pelting of the snow crystals upon the emeraldtufted cones, have a charm that summer sounds do not possess.
The flora of winter is well defined. Winter is rich in color, and the enchanted foliage is like a chapter from the Arabian Nights. Not only ruby and emerald jewels and shining crystals, but living cones and leaves of green—the dress of a real sovereign—are borne by these trees, the evergreens, which stand out against the whiteness just as if they had stepped out of Aladdin's garden. Have you counted all these beautiful evergreen trees that pitch their emerald richness against the snowy whiteness or the dreary brown of winter? They constitute a very interesting family. The pine, the spruce, the hemlock, the fir, the arbor-vita?, the cedar, the juniper, the cypress and the yew— which of these trees could we spare from the landscape? If we call the white pine the king of our woods, the hemlock should stand for the queen, and a group of balsam fir would answer for the princes. The cedars and spruces stand as sentinels along the line of hills, guarding the valleys, the cedars solitary watchmen, the spruces clambering up in bands, while the yew and the arbor-vita? cluster with neighborly
kindness in our gardens and cemeteries and in the squares and parks of our cities.....
Pleasant are the pine woods even in the winter time. One has a warm, comfortable feeling standing among them on the coldest of midwinter days, for their thick branches have kept the snow from the brown, tasseled ground, and the cold winds cannot enter them. The wind sighs pleasantly through the leaves, and the piney odors are as satisfying as a waft of frankincense and myrrh from Araby the Blest.
Almost as beautiful is the hemlock. Its soft, delicate foliage suggests dreams of summer amid deep snows. These trees. are all cone-bearing, or as the Germans call them, "needle trees." It was one of this family, you will remember, that in the folk-lore story wanted to change its needles into "truly" leaves, like those of
the maple and the oak. Glad enough, however, was the dissatisfied tree, if we recollect aright, to receive its needles back again, and very much should we miss them if all the pines and firs and spruces should choose to give up their needles and cones and put on the costume of the other trees. The larch is the only member of the evergreen family that mimics the other families of trees and sheds its leaves in winter.
Useful trees are all this family; they are not merely ornamental, but commend themselves to the most utilitarian mind. The wood of the red cedar is used in the manufacture of lead pencils. The tall pines on our mountain sides again tower aloft in foreign harbors and on distant seas. From the white spruce the Indian cuts his swift-darting canoe. Our great tanneries are supplied by the bark of larch and hemlock. Healing balsams are furnished by the firs. Pitch, resin, balsams —these are the spices that flavor our winter flora.