• Heather Davis

Ancient Trees Tell Tales of Resilience and Hope

Updated: Mar 6


The audacious hope of rooted things…” – Cynthia Bond, Ruby

In nature, the tree and the forests in which they reside are ancient and powerful symbols of resilience.

An undercurrent of stubborn determination runs throughout the natural world. Despite the harshest of conditions, life wants to live. Life wants to thrive.

All of nature is a wonderful symbol of this hope.

Pine trees especially have long symbolized this resiliency, strength, wisdom and longevity in many cultures including that of many Native Americans. For some tribes of the Southwest, the pine tree is regarded as sacred - with its sap, bark needles and nuts used in medicines.

Around 150 million years old, there are about 150 separate species of pine native to almost all of the Northern Hemisphere. Pines illustrate fortitude and perseverance through the ability to adapt to a changing environment.

Just like these primeval trees, our real growth comes only through living through and responding to the tough times.

The San Bernardino National Forest and its mountain residents have lived through their fair share. The Old Fire (2003) took out 91,000 acres, nearly a thousand homes and six lives, not to mention the bark beetle epidemic that infested and killed millions of trees in the western U.S. between 1997 and 2010.

Now healthy again, the forest is filled with ponderosa, sugar and Jeffrey pines among others. Bigcone Douglas fir, white fir and western juniper also thrive. Each individual tree that makes up the forest’s almost 824,000 acres, is unique.

Truly.

One of those trees is an old friend of mine. Meet Tree I.


This tree and I grew up together, me part-time, in the mountain community of Lake Arrowhead, CA.

He was just a cute little sapling back when I was about 13, but even then strong in his roots.

At a mere three or so feet in height, I would knock him back and forth, feeling a feigned, fleeting dominance over this tree that was quickly destined for giant-ness.

Now some 35 years on, I still visit my friend and look up through the branches. Depending on where you stand around the massive trunk, his many arms reach out to the world optimistically, but different in each turn.

Thus is the wisdom of the pine tree that has outlived the dinosaurs and will likely outlive us all. It’s important that we too stay hopeful, especially during the harshest of times.

Planting a tree is an incredibly optimistic act.

It’s a statement about the future that you’re looking ahead … To plant a tree is an act of faith in the future.

And it has always been thus.”

Michael Pollan





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