BlueGreen World

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sitting in the sun surrounded by snow and this wonderful silence on a bright, warm winter's day, I try being patient. The teenage Jeffry pine, without another tree around it in any direction for a couple dozen feet, stands awkwardly, with its low branches drawn in all directions by the snow. It reaches for the sun while the snow endlessly freezes and thaws and bends the limbs closer to snapping.

The Jeffry keeps looking up. The snow has engulfed a good third of it. Some of those lower branches will break off, but most will survive and again point toward the sun in a few months. Even with their crowns broken, or bent to the ground, the tree will send up new branch to replace the crown (as one blue spruce here has done) or slowly rise back up. One wonders to what extent the tree knows that, over time, over decades, it will be able to escape such icy tortures. It will find itself as tall as the 100-plus year old Jeffrys 100 feet away whose wide trunks alone have snow around them. No branches are pulled down by the cold snow. The snow is in fact transformed into an insulating layer around the hearty base, and the four big pines in this group tower over the surrounding trees, looking toward mountaintops and valleys. They've suffered years of abuse. They sit on the edge of the road and are battered by machines' disproportionate loading of snow as storms break open and dump on the little Tyrolean village here. They must have been hit hard just 25 years ago when this place was developed, and then slowly grown high enough to keep their crowns above the fray; and now, they remain entirely above the 400" snow-load common during the six-month winters here.

Patience. Endurance. There is nothing in nature that doesn't suffer extremes. That's nature, by definition. These trees weathered great trials in their younger years, but are enjoying their older age. They have scars from accidents and various brushes with humans. Their skin has grown thick, creviced, wrinkled, stronger. They still have snow to contend with above, but they are not dragged down by the snow that grabs them from below. They are older, probably a little wiser, and persist in the face of a cold, grabbing iciness. I wonder how much they track the sun, like the "Walking Palms" in the tropical parts of the world that move over time out from under the shade of taller trees and into the open spaces that allow more light to shine on them. Both the tropical palm and the alpen pine look up to the sun. They keep their focus on the sun, on going up, and for the longer term. Blessed with other necessities (good soil, protective elders, water), some make it to the point where they will grow old and enjoy wide views and summer breezes. Their trials will fall only from heaven, but even those snows are blessings in disguise, providing the water they will need through summer. No base attacks from the common snow on the ground - just mild adversity that pales in comparison to when they were young.



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