Daily Archives: August 19, 2010

The Tenacity Of Life

I have often marveled at how tenaciously trees cling to life. Not only are some species of trees the oldest living things on earth but they have an aversion to death that is enviable.

In my back yard in Fort Lauderdale there were two tree stumps just off the back porch. One was simply that. A stump. But on the other, two new branches were growing. The tree refused to succumb.

Here in Panama trees are commonly planted and used for fences. I’m not talking about grown, cut down and put in as posts, but actually planted in rows and then barbed wire, usually, is stapled into the trees.

This photo was shamelessly pirated from my neighbor Mary Farmer’s blog: http://ntsavanna.com/living-fence/ If there’s anything you’d like to know about the flora of the Republic you’ll find it here and what she doesn’t know¬† probably isn’t worth knowing anyway.

Of course some small trees are cut down and used as posts. Like this along the drive leading into the house here in Potrerillos Arriba.

And sometimes sections of 4X4 are mixed in:

A couple of months ago a neighbor gave the house a couple of seedlings. I don’t know what they are, but I found a couple of good spots for them in the northwest corner of the yard. In a phone conversation with the owners of the house shortly afterward they asked if the saplings were doing okay. I said I think you could stick a 2X4 into the ground here and it would grow.

Well, I wasn’t too far off in that assessment. Yesterday evening when I walked down to lock the gate at the end of the drive I spotted this. I don’t know how I missed seeing it before since I pass it at least twice a day. But there was a post that had been hewed from a tree. Top and bottom lopped off and one side planed flat. And yet this piece of wood refused to die. It wouldn’t accept what should have been its inevitable fate. There, standing proud, was a new branch reaching for the sky. A piece of lumber stuck into the ground that took root and continues to cling to life. No, not clinging to life. Thriving.

I don’t know if they grow here in Panama but the leaves remind me of the locust trees that thrived in the sandy soil of Cape Cod where I grew up.

The wood of the locust tree is extremely hard and durable. The house I grew up in was built before the American Revolution.

The small section of the house, an addition, actually, was built sometime in the latter part of the 1700s and was our kitchen. The corners were made of large hand-hewn beams and, since nails were very expensive in those days, the whole thing was tied together with two-inch thick pegs made of locust. That house has withstood countless hurricanes and who knows how many n’or easters in it’s day. And it’s still standing as it approaches nearly two and a half centuries.

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