It goes without saying that I love trees because they are beautiful to look at, because some of them produce fragrant flowers, and because they provide much-needed shade from the heat of the sun. But there is another type of tree that also claims my heart: the plucky tree, the tenacious tree, the tree that beats seemingly impossible surroundings to live and grow. The trees that teach me perseverance.
I took the above photo of a tree in the Little Tennessee River this past weekend. I'm still not entirely sure whether this tree was rooted and growing there, or was merely a branch broken off a living tree, rushed down river and then snagged on some rocks. But it just doesn't look to me to have the shape of a branch but rather a small sturdy tree whose roots had found purchase in the river bed and was flourishing in the midst of enough water to have 'drowned' most other trees.
The above tree is an Ohi'a tree growing in a lava field on the Big Island of Hawaii in Volcano National Park. I learned that this tree (with a bright red flower, below) is the first tree to colonize the inhospitable lava fields, its roots breaking the lava down into a soil more hospitable to other trees and plants. But I admire the Ohi'a tree enormously for its pluck in rolling up its sleeves and getting to work turning a lifeless field into a verdant one.
And what of these brave trees living on top of what looks like a solid rock ridge? I took the above photo in Wyoming's Crazy Woman Canyon. These trees survive ferocious winds while seeking out nourishment from what looks like a barren slab of rock. And yet not only one, but several trees have managed to live and grow for decades there. I think of how I mollycoddle the trees in my yard with compost windscreens and stand in complete awe of the many millions of wild trees who have persisted and persisted, staying true to their DNA-encoded natures, making the world a better place for having lived. I think there are lessons we can learn from them.
Ruthie photographs trees because she loves them.