Photograph by Adriana Silva (2018)
The Piñon is a pine but nobody who logged the north woods of Wisconsin or Upper Michigan to rebuild Chicago, after the big fire, would think it was any kind of pine tree.
The Piñons are spaced apart from one another in the deserts along the highways in New Mexico, like some gardener was trying to recreate the African savannas in only half or one-third scale. But in New Mexico, the dwarf elephants and tiny herds of wildebeest, the zebras, are only rarely seen.
The shadows of the crowns of the Piñon trees retreat ever more tightly under them, the higher the August sun goes. The drivers of cars with broken air conditioning imagine pulling over, stripping their clothes, and plunging into the cool purple waters of those shadows.
The Piñon has a nut the eastern tourists sometimes go, well, nuts for. In the Nineteen-fifties, a Hoosier man would write periodically to a truck stop on Route Sixty-Six, asking they send another bag of Piñon Nuts pronto, to his address on Sycamore Street in Terre Haute.
The shadows of the Piñon trees, sometimes creep out from under them on late afternoons, to join the purple shadows of New Mexico's tiny, and always very picturesque, clouds. By the time these clouds have drifted up to Missouri they are miraculously filled with rain.
When that rain crosses the Mississippi and it falls in heavy drops on the carports of houses on the outskirts of Quincy, Illinois, it sounds like Piñon nuts, lately brought from the pueblo, being cleaned by dropping them through several feet of air into a tin bowl.