My Pine Knot Pile

Pine Knot Piles and Earthly Treasures

I have a startling confession to make. I’m going this afternoon to Ace Hardware to buy some pine kindling. I’m glad my ancestors didn’t live long enough to see a Dry Creek man pay good money for rich lighter kindling.

In Alexandria, we recently moved into a house with a fireplace. I’ve been waiting for the October cool spells that mean logs on the fire and the sweet smells of burning wood and rich pine resin. It makes me think of home.

Here’s why I’m ashamed of buying rich lighter at a hardware store:

The Louisiana Pineywoods of my youth were covered in an abundance of stumps and heart pine from the cutover of the virgin Longleafs.

But those days are gone. Seldom will you find rich lighter in the woods. Recently, I walked most of my family’s land and did not find one stick, knot, fencepost, or stump of rich lighter. I was saddened that an era had passed.

. . . and that’s why I’m going today to Ace Hardware to buy a ten-pound bag of kindling.
There’s another reason I’m sad. Where DeDe and I lived in Dry Creek, I had the highest pine knot pile in the community.

Until it burned up.

Here’s the sad story:

Suddenly, the February wind picked up and turned out of the South. Instantly, a small brush fire in my back field became a raging monster.

The flames spread rapidly through the dead knee-high grass – as fast as I could, I ran ahead with a wet grass sack.

But no one person, nor any wet sack, was going to curtail this fire.

DeDe and the boys came running out of the house. Armed with brooms, buckets, and a shovel, we battled the fire until the heat drove us back.

We stood together as the fire engulfed my tall pine knot pile.
I’d ‘inherited’ this lifetime supply of pine kindling when we bought our house in Dry Creek.
But as soon as the brush fire reached the pine pile, it was completely engulfed in flames.
We watched helplessly as my “lifetime supply” of pine knots literally went up in smoke.
In fifteen minutes, it was over. A smoking pile of smoking ashes was left where my pine knot pile had towered.

One of the boys said, “Well, Daddy, it was an impressive fire.”

Another one added, “That was some black smoke, wasn’t it?”

My only thought was. I have just burned up my own pine knot pile.

I think of my pine knot pile when I read Jesus’ words in Matthew 6. He reminds us that all earthly treasures someday will rust, corrode, rot, or, as in my case – burn up.

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 always remember they are only temporary. Like my pine knot pile, earthly treasures can leave us quickly and unexpectedly.
However, the things of God are the only things that really matter – and they last forever.

As the Robert Duvall character in the movie, “Broken Trails” said,
“It’s always wrong to measure a man’s wealth by how much money he has.”

So pine knot piles, IRAs, jewels, titles, land, and fame aren’t the measure of wealth and success.
It’s true that the “things that really matter aren’t things.”

Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21:
“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, there your heart will be also.