It was another Sunday morning, mid-April, and the Weatherman had promised a beautiful, sunshiny, Spring day. I was up early, as usual and the view through the family-room windows as I raised the blinds to let in the expected sunbeams, bid me linger for a few moments.
I simply love this time of day. It has never let me down when it comes to fulfilling my expectations. Nature seldom disappoints anyone who knows her ways. Given enough time, the grass on my lawn will always turn green again, the dormant bulbs in the flowerbed will probe the soil which covers them for their signal to emerge and grow, bursting into those lovely, colorful blooms, and in a way which only they know, refresh the human spirit, bringing renewal to all who do not ignore them.
As I scanned the scene before me, my eyes paused as Hazel's slender, straight trunk came into my field of vision. "Hazel"! what a strange name for a tree. Stranger still is the realization that anyone would name a tree, but my Wife, Maureen had. It was her Mother's name and I had accepted her actions because I think I understood her reason for doing so.
Naming a tree after someone you have known and loved for most of your life is not so strange actually, not if you think about how similar they are to humans, and this morning, I was doing exactly that.
There are many kinds of trees, just as there are many kinds of people, but their basic structure differs very little. Trees are roots, trunk, and branches. Humans are roots, strength of character and area of influence. Both have their beginnings as seeds of a sort, and both, if they are to survive, must put down some supporting roots. A tree's root system consists of a "TAP ROOT", which is its central core and many finger-like branches, or "FEEDER ROOTS" through which it nourishes itself. In dry periods, the tap root bores deep into the earth, usually down to and below the areas water table level, whatever the depth may be of that water table. If it is to survive, it must have that resource available to it.
A tree will regulate its growth in direct proportion to the amount of nourishment it can obtain through its feeder roots. Water is the determining factor in that respect. Without water to dissolve the minerals and other organic matter within the soil and turning it into a usable kind of tree-soup, a tree will go "Dormant" for whatever length of time it remains undernourished. There will be little or no growth for that season and a lengthy period of consecutive arid seasons will result in a stunted tree, or possibly one that is deformed. Think about the facts which I have just stated with reference to trees, substitute love and nurturing for water as it relates to trees and apply that to a young, human child.
Do you know how a young tree withstands the forces of Nature? It's trunk must possess sufficient strength to support its branches and yet, it must be flexible enough to bend with the force of whatever wind is present. All the while, it must have a firm base to rely upon to keep it anchored in place without danger of its roots giving way and allowing it to be toppled over.
The leaves on a tree's branches are not there to provide shade and beautiful scenery for some human observer. They are the "Pump" which causes the "Tree-soup" which the feeder-roots gather to rise against the force of gravity to the very highest branches, nourishing the cells of the wood fiber bringing about increased growth.
Have you ever noticed how some trees grow in all directions with no resemblance of order or direction? That is the result of a variety of influences, be it their position in relation to other plant life around them or their location on a hillside or even the result of storm damage or it could be something as complicated as genetic mutation. Do you see how these same relationships could easily apply to humans?
If a tree has a large number of branches it also will have a great many leaves. The branches, which support the growing twigs to which all those leaves are attached, must be strong and thick out of necessity and it follows that the trunk, which supports all those thick branches with all those leaves, must be massive and strong. Strength does not always relate to rigid, stiffness. Large trees with a great many branches and leaves can be easily toppled by above average, straight-line winds or be twisted and broken by the circular motion of tornadoes.
Take a look around after a windstorm or tornado. Large trees which had a strong enough root system, a sturdy, yet flexible trunk, and not too many branches will usually still be standing erect. They may be battered and damaged, some of their branches broken or missing, but they will survive. The trees showing the most affect are the ones with shallow, surface roots, a massive, stiff trunk and too many branches. A large willow tree is a good example. The other survivors you will find are tall, straight, slender, and flexible with just the right amount of branches for their size.
Nature has so many valuable lessons to teach us if we will only pay her some attention. If you ever have the opportunity to take a walk through a wooded area and you are fortunate enough to come across one of these "Monarchs of the Forest", take the time to observe your surroundings closely. How many other young trees are directly under the area of influence of this Monarch's massive, spreading branches? Are there any at all? Moreover, if there are, are they small and stunted? Usually, the ground beneath those massive branches is covered with leaf-litter and dead branches from the great tree itself. Even its' own offspring must have been fortunate enough to fall beyond the shadow of its parents influence if it is making any progress toward maturing at all.
The only reason these trees survived to gain the position and stature they presently have can be attributed to nature and fate or if you will, "Good-fortune". They have survived to a ripe, old age for a variety of reasons, none of which can be attributed to their own efforts. Their very position in life and within the boundaries of the forest itself allowed them enough water, sunlight and protection from the wind to survive and grow sufficiently in size and strength where they were able to survive the onslaught of all of natures perils later on. They could have been brought down by disease, insect infestation, fire, wind, lightning, or the Woodsman's Axe, but no, such was not deemed their fate.
I have heard them speak as I sat quietly near by them, the wind was their voice and the branches, their vocal cords, and they whispered, "I am, because I was allowed to be, by one, who is greater than even me."