Life’s lessons from a pine tree

  • Monday, May 5, 2014

  • Updated Monday, May 5, 2014 6:33 pm

Michaele Duke

We all get stressed out. Thatís part of life. How we deal with it can make the difference in living a healthy life or suffering from a plethora of ills. The winter ice storm is fading from memory as spring brings forth blooms and warm weather but many are still dealing with its aftermath. And Iím not talking about humans.

Last week while turkey hunting I came across a pine tree that had been snapped off at the top, leaving a 15-foot tall bare trunk. The fact that a tree was nothing more than a stick jutting from the ground wasnít anything special as thousands of trees across our state saw the same fate under the weight of ice. But this one is special.

If it werenít for the morning sunshine, I would not have noticed that the tree had gone into survival mode. Jutting out from between thick layers of bark were tiny clumps of bright green branches.

I sent the photo to our local Clemson Extension Forester Corey Craig. He identified the phenomenon as epicormic branching. Itís a stress response.

Further research notes the branching is considered a defect and reduces the monetary value if it is part of managed timber.

That may be so but I like to compare the treeís reaction to a major life-changing event to events of my own. Once I ran out of chocolate and thought I was going to die. Of course I didnít die (Iím also joking - somewhat) but there are people in this world that would have blown the mundane experience into a drama worthy of a cameo appearance on The Kardashians.

The humble pine tree responded to devastation not by giving up and dying; rather, it took advantage of the energy around it and inside its roots to gain the strength it needs to begin anew. There is a lesson to be learned here; we have energy all around us in our family and friends and our faith. Itís up to us to tap into those sources that will make us evergreen in the face of diversity.

On the lighter side

Congratulations go to D.P. Cooper Elementary School and its principal Dr. Kerry Singleton. On Monday night, the Williamsburg County School District Board of Trustees gave its blessing on the schoolís conversion to a charter school. The joy that erupted from the crowd who has waited nearly a year for the final decision was certainly an appropriate reaction. However, behavior by some board members, that included grandstanding, yelling and politicking were embarrassing as witnessed in the expressions and comments by several gentlemen of their first school board experience. The conduct of an elected official, whether he or she sits on school board, town council, or county council, should reflect professionalism, self-discipline and respect for fellow board members. Throughout Mondayís meeting some board members seemed to have forgotten the importance of the attributes.

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