About 10 months ago, Mother and I were driving to the farm. There were clouds rolling across the northwest part of Waller county and we were following them along 290 just this side of Austin. The clouds were dark, beautiful, and fast. Watching as they rolled along, I calculated some of the darkest ones were right over Pineknot Farm and Lab. Way up there in the dark clouds, electrostatic charges were forming, a powerful negative force building up, loading those dark clouds. I saw it the second it happened: a lightening bolt, bright, long and powerful, met the positive ground, somewhere linking a very tall tree, delivering a jolt hotter than 54,000 degrees. I can’t understand 54,000 degrees.

Everything looked fine at the farm when we got there, just not enough rain as I might have liked.

It wasn’t until the next week, walking along the pasture, I saw it. One of the biggest pines on the farm, up near the north end, still evergreen, yet hidden among those limbs, was a 4 inch stripe that moved from the top of the tree, 120 feet up the trunk extending to all the way down to ground level.

Despite my optimism, that 4 inch scar, was the smallest tattle of what had happened when 54,000 degrees of heat hit that tree. Within 6 months, it was obvious, the tree was cooked. Literally.

Close to the old farm house as it was I wondered what this hurricane season might do to it. Gulf coast winds coming up from south of the farm would make a trajectory towards the house. I wondered how long it might last.

I wasn’t the only one. There were ax men of courage, brawn, and brain, wondering too and last week, they took the tree into their own hands.

The ax men took the chain saw and cut all around, the very middle of the tree beyond the blade. The tree swayed as the wind blew at the farm and finally, it blew from the east and fell…

At its core, the weakest point was a limb from when it was a young sapling…

The tree was old, with years of breathing in CO2 and exhaling oxygen, with years of photosynthesizing the sun in it long, fine pine needles.

And then the Ax men began the task of taking its zylem and phloem behind the dam, to soak the soil with carbon.

braun…

brain…

more braun…

Ax man Neil.

Ax Man Silent Bob, truly, the most interesting man in the world.

And after probably 150 years of living, the pine tree, felled by a buildup of electrical charge, at just the right time, in the middle of a rain storm, at the north end of Waller county, comes to an end.