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1st Day of December

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Scroll down to read entire chapter from Deep Roots,  “The Pine Knot Pile.”

Proverbs for Dec. 1  “… and the complacency of fools destroys them…”  Proverbs 1:32   Warning: doing nothing destroys just as improper action does!

Quote for your day: “A friend is a present you give yourself.”  -Robert Louis Stevenson

Deep Roots update:  Our new short story collection should be available by Dec. 9.

Spent Bullet update:  Our latest novel (set during the 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers) has been optioned to a traditional publisher. Details to come.

What I’m reading today:   Humility by Andrew Murray and Twitter Power by Joel Comm.


It costs something to be a true Christian. Let that never be forgotten. To be a mere nominal Christian, and go to church, is cheap and easy work. But to hear Christ’s voice, and follow Christ, and believe in Christ, and confess Christ, requires much self-denial. It will cost us our sins, and our self-righteousness, and our ease, and our worldliness. All– all must be given up. We must fight an enemy who comes against us with twenty thousand followers. We must build a tower in troubled times. Our Lord Jesus Christ would have us thoroughly understand this. He bids us “count the cost.”

~ J.C. Ryle

I discovered this powerful quote at http://jcrylequotes.com

Jay Miller Memorial Pine Knot Pile, Dry Creek, La

This is a chapter from my new book,  Deep Roots.

The Pine Knot Pile:

Suddenly, the February wind picked up and turned out of the south. Instantly what had been a small controlled fire in my back field morphed into a raging monster.
The flames spread rapidly through the dead knee high grass—as fast I as I could, I ran ahead with my faithful firefighting weapon—a wet grass sack. But no one person, nor any wet sack, was going to curtail this fire. It had a malicious mind of its own as it raced northward.
DeDe and the boys came running out of the house. Armed with brooms, buckets, and a shovel, they ran to join me but we were all driven back by the raging racing fire. We watched as the fire sped toward one of my most precious possessions: my pine knot pile.
Before returning to this fire, let me clue you in on what a pine knot pile is. Southwestern Louisiana was naturally populated with yellow pines, or as we now call them, longleaf pines. Every area of upland was covered with these slow-growing but stately pines. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, all of the virgin pine forests were clear-cut by large timber companies. Where huge tracts of pines had once towered, only open fields of stumps now stood. The timber companies cleared large areas, then moved on.

These Yellow Pines had many great qualities. Prime among them was the tree’s large heart, or inner core. This resiny heart, instead of rotting, turned into a rich, sappy wood. These remains of pine stumps were called “rich lighter” or “fat pine.”
Due to its thick resin, lighter pine would burn easily and for generations were the preferred method of starting fires in cook stoves and fireplaces.

In the 1940’s, Crosby Chemical Company of Picayune, Mississippi moved into Beauregard Parish and began harvesting the remaining stumps for their turpentine mill. Turpentine, the syrupy resin in pine stumps, has many commercial purposes.

Country people gathered all of the rich pine they could for their personal use. Every older home had a large pine pile.
Settlers considered their pine supply a great prize. Fires were the method of keeping warm and cooking. During the winter a fire was usually burning in either the fireplace or cook stove around the clock.

Over the years as propane and electricity became part of our rural culture, cook stoves and cooking in the fireplace became lost arts.
In spite of these modern improvements, most people kept their fireplaces going. There is no substitute for sitting cozily by a popping and crackling fire as the cold wind moans and the rain blows against the house.

When DeDe and I bought our Dry Creek home in 1985, I was excited about inheriting an ample pine knot pile in the corner of our back field. The land on which we now live had been a second growth forest until it was cleared for soybean farming in the 1960’s.
As they cleared the land I now live on, the pine stumps and knots were stacked in an impressive pile in the corner of the field. It was head high and twenty feet wide.
With pride I pointed my treasure out to family and friends. I could feel the envy of men as they coveted my pine pile. There was enough here to easily last a lifetime and more.

I tried not to be completely selfish with this abundant supply. I shared wheelbarrow loads with my dad, family, and neighbors. Even after ten years of use, I hadn’t even made a good dent in my pine pile.

This hot runaway fire in my back field—started by me—is approaching my pine knot pile, and was going to make more than a dent in it. As soon as the brush fire touched the pine pile, it was engulfed in flames. The fire and thick choking black smoke billowed high into the sky.

If it’d been anything but my pine knot pile, watching this would have been enjoyable  . . . but it was my lifetime supply of pine literally going up in smoke as we stood and watched helplessly.

DeDe went inside and contacted the the fire tower as to the source of the billowing black smoke. The tower observer replied, “Ma’am, go easy on your husband. It’s a tough thing on a man to lose his pine knot pile.”

It had all happened so quickly and was over in a matter of minutes. Where fifteen minutes earlier my huge pine knot pile had towered, was now only charred ashes and smoking chunks of wood.

When I read Jesus’ words in Matthew, I envision my precious pine knot pile. He reminds us that all earthly treasures someday will rust, corrode, rot, become moth-eaten, be discarded and abandoned, or as in my case—burn up.

When you see someone driving a new car off the sales lot, remember that one day the new and shiny car, will be junked, smashed, and melted down.

Jesus told us to hoard Heavenly treasures – the things that really last: eternal things. The only things I’ve seen that really last are God’s word, His love, and people’s souls. Therefore, that’s where our treasures should be.

Earthly treasures have their place, but we should never forget they are only temporary. Just like my pine knot pile, they can quickly and unexpectedly leave us. The things of God are the only things that really matter—and they last forever.

 

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is.”

Matthew 6: 20-21


About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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