~ Stories From The Woods XXIV ~ Editor. Note: Artist Fitz Maurice has set out to paint live at all of the US National Parks. She will be submitting her stories from the road to StuNewsLaguna from time to time.
Story and photos by Fitz Maurice

“Bristlecone Pine Trees are like Wisdom Personified”

After leaving Arizona I headed up to Nevada to discover Great Basin National Park. It’s an astonishing experience that inspires and humbles you when you realize that you’re standing with trees that are 5,000 years old and growing. This is a sacred place – forests being the first temples on earth. Perhaps that is why the bristlecone pine trees are only whispered about. They are a rather well kept secret, for good reasons.

Bristlecone Pine Tree and FITZ 5:16
Ancient bristlecone pine tree and Fitz, on the QUEST, May 2016
Bristlecone pines stand alone and unprotected, too vulnerable to the graffiti and theft of indecent people who are selfish enough to impose destruction on this sacred ground, stealing something that should be holy to all of mankind.
“On the QUEST” means to me, first and foremost, my desire and commitment to protect and preserve our national parks. Even if you personally never go, you have the comfort as an American of knowing the most rare of natural beauty is there, just waiting for you. The truth that you may have been searching for is there, waiting for you to behold. God bless America and keep our national parks ours: the People’s Parks!
When I visited the Bristlecone Pines, it was the kind of day that they thrive on but not so friendly to we humans. At a high altitude of over 10,000 ft. it was below freezing and blowing a cruel snowy wind up to 30 mph! As you can see in the photo, I’m wearing five layers of wool, a down coat, and I had the scarf across my face so I could breathe. The air was that frosty cold! These types of conditions provide the old tree souls with some protection from the public. It is exactly the freezing weather and constant snow that spares these ancient trees from too many visitors, diseases, insects and drought and, worst of all, vandals.
Needless to say, I had the entire frozen and sacred temple to myself and was able to learn so much about how these 5,000 year-old trees survived and thrived. It was a great opportunity, witnessing how these remarkable trees lived yet another day on earth. After all, they love freezing cold snowy days and have thrived on them for thousands of years.

Bristlecone Pine Nevada 6:16

“Bristlecone Pine Tree, Great Basin National Park, Nevada,”  Charcoal Drawing by Fitz Maurice

The ancient trees are still growing – another excellent example to us all. As long as we are alive, we should be growing.
I also observed the tree’s willingness to bend, which saves them from breaking. When the force of storms beat on them, they simply grow with the flow. This tooling by the wind has sculpted the bristlecone pine trees into forms that are gnarled as if by determination, yet they remain green and growing. Above all, their goal is to reach up to the light. They will weave around anything and turn and twist until they have stretched in every way possible to reach an inch higher.
I’m struck by the realization that these ancient trees started growing there in Nevada during the time of the Egyptians!
I’m left with this question: When will mankind truly honor nature? When will we admit that we are still very adolescent and need to grow up enough to realize that humans must learn from nature? We need to learn from wise trees such as these that have proven their successful existence despite all odds. I’m learning so much living immersed in nature. I’m learning to bend and twist my life to God’s way, like the way the trees seek His light.
I believe that bristlecone pine trees are truly wisdom personified.
To see some of the newest National Park Paintings visit Woods Cove Art Gallery, 1963 South Coast Hwy, in Laguna Beach.

FITZ Maurice has been on her “quest” to paint live in every national park in America. Now totally committed to help promote and protect the parks, the artist is traveling by truck and trailer; hiking, kayaking and horseback riding in search of the ultimate scene. Finally setting up with portable easel and oil paints, FITZ sets out to capture in paint the wonders that make each national park a treasure to Americans and all the people of the world.To see her National Park Paintings: