Friday, November 19, 2010

Cross section

 Tree's amaze me. The sheer variety of them are astounding to me. The climate's they grow in, and how they adapt to those places, just to survive, I find incredible. Broad leaf tree's and conifers. Trees like Redwoods, and their massive size, and age. Fig ecosystem unto themselves. They grow, tall and solo, providing animals, bugs, birds, bats, and the forest floor with a bounty. Their seeds carried in the bellies of many. Yet solely dependant on a wasp for pollination. Trees that grow in the desert. Unbearable heat and no water. Yet somehow, they find what they need to survive, and thrive. Palm trees. Oh how I envy them. Shallow roots, abundant moisture, and glorious sun. The elite trees.
Trees provide shade, and fruit. They are homes to thousands of species. We harvest sap from them to pour on our pancakes, and cut them down to build homes. Paper products and medicine. Furniture, and pencils. Their uses are endless. Yet they go, virtually unnoticed. We pay no attention to them. They are a part of our landscape, and fade into the back round. They provide us with what we need to breathe, but they are not given a thought, mostly.
Some trees, like the Sugar Maple, develop tricks to get moisture. Their roots will stretch hundreds of feet, and grow another set of smaller roots around the peat moss of a plant, surrounding the root ball, and stealing all of it's water. Anything it can, just to survive.

The cross section of a piece of wood tells not only it's age, but it's story. You can see lighter areas between it's age rings, that are the summer season. Sap flowed freely to the tree, and growth was quick. The darker color is the winter. It is a layer that builds up to protect the fresh summer growth. In the Fall, the tree will pull most of it's sap from it's upper reaches, to keep it from freezing. To keep itself alive.

When you look at the growth rings of a tree, you can also see when something traumatic has happened to the tree. There will be a distortion, or an unusual ripple, signifying that the tree suffered in some way. Maybe a drought. Maybe a terribly dry, burning summer. It changes the rings, altering it, like tossing a pebble in a brook. It reverberates. The tree will recover, but the wound is etched into it's long memory.

On the outside, it appears tough, from years of growth, and a coat of bark.
It remains silent. Never speaking of the ripple within itself.

Only when it withers and dies, will someone see it's story.

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