The Torrey pine is the rarest native pine in the United States, and it grows in my backyard. Well, not literally, but it lives on the coast, about a 20 minute drive south of my home. It's not endangered, and not especially prized for lumber or size or age. It's a pretty tree, but not stunning. But, there is something very special about it. I suppose it's the fact that it's a survivor.
As Hank Nicol puts it, on the Torrey Pines State Reserve web site. "The Torrey pines along the sea cliffs suffer from persistent drought. Their roots are growing in poor sand which can hardly be called "soil". The trees are blasted by storms and cooked in the sun. Some trees die, but the species lives stubbornly on. some trees, like some people, develop character during hard times. That's what I think is special about the Torrey pine..., character!"
My family and I go to see the Torrey Pine every few years (and it should be more often). But I often think of it and feel particularly lucky that I live near it. I don't really know why. I guess because I grew up in So. Cal., in the concrete jungle that is LA County, and although I knew green places existed (I saw them on vacations) I never felt I belong to them any more than anyone else did. I existed in an artificial land and green places where special occasions. Living (in San Diego County) in a place with far more green spaces I've come closer to coming home to nature and I think the Torrey pine tree is, for me, symbolic of this particular place and my connection to it. This tree is special, this place is special, and in whatever ways I am connected to it, it might make me special too.