Drawing Strength from Nature


When I was about 14, my next door neighbor cut down a branch of our oak tree that extended into his backyard.  It was like having one of my own limbs amputated.  I mean, when I ran away from home for the first time (with a lunchbox full of underwear), it was on that branch that I intended to live.  But then - THEN – my hot-shot neighbor with the slick hair and the quick smile sawed it off in one final act of tree terrorism.  (This is starting to sound like a Michael Bay film – sorry.)  I had never been so angry before and decided then and there to give him the silent treatment for the rest of my life.

I’d like to think I’ve grown up since then, but – I gotta be honest – if we ran into each other again, I would probably kick him in the shins.

Having grown up in the Midwestern countryside, I love trees – especially the “survivors” – trees that, despite all odds, just won’t give up.

Here are a few with remarkable stories.  Kinda makes you feel stronger, too, right?

1.  Not even American politics could screw this one up.  The little Japanese bonsai guy below is nearly 400 years old and survived the blast of the nuclear bomb in 1945.  “Before the world wars, before the car and bicycle, before the American Civil War or even the United States of America, there was the Yamaki pine.” (Tofugu)  I bet this tree knowwwws things (like whether Hillary Clinton is going to run in 2016).


2.  The sequoia is one bad-ass bitch.  As rim fires continue to rage in Yosemite this week, I’m reminded of how these gorgeous towering trees have long since adapted to their fire-prone environment.  The heat actually opens up their cones and spreads their seeds. We see a similar phenomenon among teenagers in NYC at the height of summer.


3. Ever notice how everyone in the Bible lived to be 900?  Well, so did the trees.  The olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane (Jerusalem) are among the oldest broad-leaved trees in the world.  Believed by many to be the very trees beneath which Jesus prayed on the eve of his crucifixion, the garden’s earth “miraculously” appears to block the insects, lead pollution, and bacteria that are so abundant in the area.  No word on whether you can see any images of Jesus in the tree bark.


4.  In October of 2001, the callery pear tree (pictured at the top of this post), was the last living thing to be pulled from Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.  The tree had been yanked up by its roots and buried under rubble for weeks.  After being brought back to health at a nursery in the Bronx, the tree was returned to the Ground Zero Memorial site.  And only a couple years ago, it lived up to its name again – surviving the fierce winds and rain of Hurricane Irene.  I am particularly fond of this tree, as my mom and I were last photographed together standing next to it on her final visit to NY.  Only I forgot to suck in, so you will never see this photo.

*Photo Source: Flickr, Raymond Gehman for National Geographic, A Day in the Life of Us*



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