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Lessons from the Trees

Copyright by WyoJones. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


Trees have always fascinated me. When I was little (before I developed a fear of heights), I used to climb as high as I could and then sway in the wind. It was a deliciously free feeling, to be so high, as if I were part of the sky and wind.

I loved the treehouse in Swiss Family Robison and wanted to live in that house. So when we moved South and into neighborhoods with massive old trees, I was in heaven. When the drought came to Texas, it looked to me as if all the trees were going to die. I reminded myself that many of these trees had been there long before I came and would be there long after I left.

But the sight of those parched, pale sticks reaching for moisture that didn’t come was a discouraging sight.

Then it started to rain. And many of the trees began to show signs of life. I think they estimated 10% of the trees didn’t make it.

But 90% of the trees did make it.

That’s a lot of trees.

There was this lot I used to drive past a lot where I could see the live/dead tree ratio with my own eyes. The dead trees were very sore thumbs among the rich, green growth, and I wondered, why did that tree die? It looked the same as the one next to it.

Where I grew up, in Northern Wyoming, dry is a way of life for the most part (except this last winter with its thirty year winter and now were under a spring runoff flood watch). The normal annual precipitation for Wyoming is 15-16 inches a year. (In Houston or New Orleans, many times we got that much rain in during a single storm.)

We don’t have as many trees in Wyoming, and yes, sometimes they die, but they are pretty tough trees. Because the water table is so low, their roots go very deep into the ground. I thought that’s what all trees did.

Until we moved to the South and saw the roots tracking along the top of the ground (because the water table is sometimes ABOVE the ground). I was amazed they were not only still there, but some of them were very old.

Then I learned the tree roots intertwine with each other for strength and stability. They literally reach out to each other for help. Trees are still lost. Many trees were lost during Hurricane Katrina, for instance, because the trees stood in water for too long. Some had diseases that weakened their bonds with other trees and they went down.

I think there are many lessons to be learned from trees, both the Wyoming ones and the Houston ones, but I’ll focus on just two:

  1. We need to find a strong foundation and then hold on to it during the storms (and droughts) of life.

  2. We need friends and family before, during, and after the storms and droughts of life.

I can look back at my life and plainly see those storms, I can see the places where I had bedrock under me, places I didn’t, and the family and friends who helped me through the rough patches until I could find that bedrock again.

I’m still standing and some days that surprises me. And I wouldn’t be without a lot of help and love from family, friends, and friendly strangers. So if I failed to personally thank you last year during that storm, or any other storms, please know that I couldn’t have done it without you.

Have you learned anything from trees? From the kindness of others? Please, do share. I love comments so much that I pick a favorite to receive my monthly AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value).  (And don’t forget that once a quarter I’ll be tossing in something fun from the Perilously Fun Shop!) The recipient is announced in the first blog post of the new month.

Perilously yours,


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