The Seed Tree


Curt’s rendition of “The Seed Tree” can be seen on our Creekbank YouTube channel.

Our audio Podcast is also available at Spotify.

The Seed Tree

I’ve been studying this majestic Loblolly pine for over thirty years. It’s located along LA Hwy 113 after you cross the Calcasieu River and enter Louisiana’s No Man’s Land.

It caught my eye because it was the lone tree in the middle of a large pasture.

I’ve driven Highway 113 all of my life. It connects my boyhood home of Dry Creek to the towns of Pineville, where I attended Louisiana College, and Alexandria, where I now live.

For years, cattle roamed the pasture around the big pine. Infrequent bush hogging prevented tree growth.

Except for my big pine.

Several decades ago, the field was allowed to go fallow. No more grazing. No more bush hogging.

Soon, a thick grove of young pines sprouted up around the big loblolly.—they were volunteer pines.

Volunteer pines aren’t planted; they come up as ‘volunteers.’’

Soon, the big pine was encircled by a thick cover of young pines.

That’s when I started calling the tall pine a Seed Tree.

There is a story about the origin of the term “Seed Trees”:

When the first settlers arrived in western Louisiana, huge virgin longleaf pine forests populated No Man’s Land.

But that changed at the end of the 19th Century when speculators and northern timber companies gobbled up the land.  They built temporary sawmills and cut all of the virgin pine forests.

The timber people had a cut-out/get-out policy, leaving nothing behind but miles of pine stumps.

However, sawyers periodically left a solitary longleaf pine as a “Seed Tree.” This allowed the seed tree or “mother tree” to spread its seeds and replenish the area, and from these tall trees, large cones and fluttering seeds resulted in young volunteer pines.

My big loblolly pine on 113 is also a seed tree. A mother tree.

As the years have rolled on, the surrounding volunteer pines have grown tall against the backdrop of my seed tree.

I noticed last week the young pines have nearly obscured the Seed Tree. Soon, it’ll be hard to distinguish where it stands.  A thick grove of children trees will have taken its place.

I won’t see my seed tree as I drive to Dry Creek. We’ve been friends for over thirty years, and I’ve watched it faithfully guard this pasture.  Soon, I’ll never see it again.

But I don’t feel sorry for the seed tree.  It’s done its appointed job: carrying on the legacy of loblolly pines in that field, and its family will surround it for the remainder of its days.

You cannot ask for anything better than that.

Part of approaching seventy makes me think a lot about legacy.

I believe legacy is not only about after you die; it’s also about now. You and I are building a legacy around us now.

You don’t have to die to have a legacy. You are building a legacy as you live.

Legacy is often defined as “What you leave behind and who you leave it to.”

But legacy is much more than about property lines, heirship, wills, and Momma’s china.

Legacy is what you pass on from heart to heart. It cannot be seen or felt, but its presence is always evident.

It involves making memories, and those memories have to be big things. They can be any way where hands and hearts can touch and bond.

As I consider my own lasting legacy, I wonder, ” What will I be remembered for, and by whom? “

Even though I’ve written a dozen books and gained some fashion of notoriety, it won’t be my writing that will be my true legacy.

It will be my family.

That grove of trees surrounding me.

DeDe and I have been blessed with three adult sons and nine precious grandchildren. They are my greatest legacy, and at this season of my life, I want to pour my life into theirs at every opportunity.

You see, I understand the influence of grandparents. I’m the product of four grandparents who loved me unconditionally and left a legacy I’ve tried to pass on.

In 2015, when we returned to America after our years in Africa, everyone expected we’d move back to Dry Creek and build a house down Clayton Iles Road.

My wife DeDe, who’s always ahead of me, said, “We should move to Alexandria. It’s where our grandchildren are.”

My wife has always been smarter than me.  She was right.

I joke with my Dry Creek friends that I’ve been exiled to Alexandria.  But that’s not true. I’m here because this is where my young pines are growing.

I’m here to see ball games, dance recitals, Taekwondo exhibitions, baptisms, church programs,.etc.

I also get to be with them in normal everyday life.

I miss the woods of my home place, but I’m surrounded by the young trees that really matter; they sure grow up quickly. There’s no time to waste.

One of my friends back home asked, “Curt, why in the world would you move away from Dry Creek to Alexandria?”

I shrugged. “There are nine reasons why.  They’re named Noah, Jack, Jude, Sydney, Luke, Emma, Maggie, Ellen, and Eliza.”

Don’t feel sorry for me. I get my weekly Dry Creek fix when I visit my Mom and get out on my land.

In fact, my stationary states,  “Curt Iles  Dry Creek, LA/Alexandria, LA. I have dual citizenship.


My life statement has varied very little over the past twenty years: “I want to be a man God can use, be encouraging, and be respected by those who know me best.”

My legacy, my dream, and my prayer is to be the kind of man who lives worthy of my family’s respect and love. I want to pass it on to generations I’ll never know—a legacy of the things that matter.

A legacy of the heart.  A legacy to those stands of pines I’ll never know.


Wow. Some life lessons learned from a stately loblolly pine west of the Calcasieu River as you enter Louisiana’s No Man’s Land.

My wish and prayer for you is that you’ll be surrounded by those young pines and relentlessly pour your life into theirs, and don’t forget that you can build a legacy even if your young pines are far away.

It’s worth it. It’s worth it all.


Thanks for joining us at the Creekbank.

We’ll see you soon.

In the meantime, we’ll be sure to leave the screen door unlatched for you.



We’re excited about several new facets of our influence and impact:

The Creekbank YouTube Channel is at @curtiles56. I’m in a rocker on the Old House porch, sharing stories like “The Seed Tree.”   You’ll enjoy it.  Please visit, subscribe, and share.

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