The Resilience of Trees and Humans

“There’s an unusual delineation.  In the first few years of life she was just another unfettered white pine growing at a rapid rate.  Each ring around her heartwood is clearly defined.”

Obviously cultured by someone at some point, it was unclear how the odd specimen ended up living and dying where it did; in a remote location off the beaten path.  It was deep within a national forest that two hikers discovered the fallen hero and reported the case to the ranger station in town.  What had started off as a bit of interesting research into the history of an unusual tree had become personal; as if the two investigating were forensic pathologists out to uncover the psychological profile of deceased. The old conifer was deemed a “she” even though pines were considered monoecious, having both male and female cones.  

 “But then something happened.  Yes I see it!”  The observing intern began to count. “1, 2, 3, 4…it was in her fifth year.”

“It’s quite a scar…nearly fatal!”

Looking at cross-section of the fallen fir, it was hard for the arborist to tell exactly what had occurred at that particular point in time, but for the next ten years it was clear that the tree had somehow, somewhere, managed to grow. 

“At ring 17…that’s where the regression begins.  See how the rings begin to collapse…uprooted and transplanted into a small container of some sort would be my guess…and then here’s the split intentionally created by a chisel perhaps.”

“Not an act of nature?” the intern asked.

“Nope.  Someone intervened.  Look at how it was induced…from the very base.   And here, this is clear evidence of a wire tourniquet…probably used thicken this part of the trunk for aesthetics and starve the extending branches.  The angles of the larger branches show clear evidence of manipulation.”  

The two marveled. They had never examined a tree that had been so severely restricted, stunted for a time by unnatural forces at a point in time when it was well on its way to becoming if not majestic, at least wonderfully tall.

“My guess is that tree was nearly six feet at that point.  It’s one thing to start off with a sapling and have a plan, but had this been a human it would have been spirit crushing, but this tree must have been determined to make it.  Somehow, after what looks to be a couple of decades, the separated trunks rejoined— a natural grafting it appears…followed by years of solid growth.”

Humans are a lot trees in terms of cycles of acclamation, growth and trauma. Quite naturally we reach for every bit of radiance that filters through hoping the source is true. This is the tale of The Six-Foot Bonsai…the story of an existence divided by culture; made whole by grace.     


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