Friday, January 3, 2020

Do you Pine for...

Do you pine for …..
A place, a person, a moment

A tangible object, an intangible feeling!

A long walk could be as exhilarating and liberating as a session of serene serenade on the beach of the sea or a session of yoga on a mat. No I am not going to talk of exercise or a work out. I write this after my toe stepped on an innocuous looking object while on a morning walk yesterday.
New Delhi is chilly and hazy in winters and seeps into a tormenting pattern of summers soon afterwards. However a few weeks of bliss engulfs the city spliced between these two extremes, the Spring!

Long walk across expansive grass turf is bliss in such a season. If the esplanade is dotted with pine trees still better. Shade giving and aromatic, these trees with their distinct foliage provides the much needed succor to a mentally depressed city dweller during times of stress.

Belonging to genus Pinus, Pines are conifer trees that has more than 126 species found across the globe. In temperate regions, deserts, nearly every place except the tropics. I tread on this subject because a tree such as a Pine can evoke a diverse thought process if we tread deeper. There are actually three parts of a pine tree that are edible! The seeds or the pine nuts can be used in cooking especially in salads. If you wander into a forest and get lost perhaps you can considering using the inner bark of a pine tree which is edible and can be sliced and fried to be eaten in emergencies. The young make cones can actually be boiled to be eaten. Some needles are used to prepare tea. Even the twigs are supposed to be edible! It is understood that the pollen from pine cones (pollen is produced by only male cones) can be used as a substitute for flour or corn starch. Pines are actually very useful trees and they encapsulate many stories.

The Coulter Pine cone is perhaps the heaviest among cones of pine trees that can Weigh upto 10 pounds. The Sugar Pine cone is perhaps the longest of the cones that can grow upto 24”, it has a sweet sap which can be chewed like a gum, its nuts are edible too. This tree grows tall and can go upto 280 feet in height. The Knob cone pine is supposed to be the hardest pine with a closed cone. It relies on heat from wildfires to open up the cones. The Pinyon pine cone has large edible brown nuts and are also used for medicinal purposes. The Logepole pine is a small cone around 2 inches long. It is basically used for decorations. The Jeffrey Pine is another variety that has prickles on the end of its scales which bend inwards and can be handled safely.

As food, medicine, decorative items, basketry these aesthetically appealing trees have many unique features hidden behind their bark and branches. This tree is considered as ‘Great Pine of Peace’. However the health benefits of Pine trees are immense. The bark peels of the trees can be dried up and consumed. It can be brewed up as tea with the help of pine needles. These have high amounts of vitamin C and are extremely helpful as boosters of immune system. They also help improve vision and eye health. The edible parts of the pine are capable of eliminating pathogens from body and help lifting up skin health besides preventing hair loss. Respiratory ailments too can be cured with the help of pine cones.

A well known method of preparing and preserving a home remedy goes like this. Fresh pine needles can be soaked in apple cider vinegar for six weeks. A wide mouthed vessel can be used up for this purpose. The pine needles just need to be completely submerged in the vinegar and after six weeks an edible and medicinal potion is ready for consumption.

Though pine cone saps leave stains on clothes, they are preserved to prepare tincture and honey and are proven to have medicinal qualities. Pine resins form a component of propolis and bark of pine saplings are used to place cast for stabilising broken bones.

If walking in a park laden with pine trees makes you heady, there is a little known reason behind this. Besides the aromatic fragrance that is brought in by the breeze hitting the Pine trees, pine pollen has very high levels of testosterone. Ingestion of the pollen or tincture of the pollen is proven to increase libido.

No wonder the innocuous looking object that came in contact with me while on a morning walk yesterday was a Pine cone that led my heart to feel high and my spirit to be invigorated. A peep into the reason for my exhilaration brought to light little known facts about pine trees and their qualities. There could be thousand reasons for us to set off for picnics or morning walks but we are blessed by unseen factors such as the flowers, rivers, breeze besides the pine trees and their cones that lend magic to our existence and outings.

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