Thursday, July 10, 2008

Advantageous Grower

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As I walked along the state road in front of our home picking up the weekend warriors’ trash, I noticed something unusual, a short pine sapling. Here’s some history about its growing spot.

We’ve had pine tree stumps in the front for some time. We cut one tree down about eight years ago after lightening hit it. That tree is the third in our yard to get bolted from above. My yard is a good place to not be when humid and cold air rumba. At midnight, one of those strikes occurred outside the bedroom window and the subsequent quake of the house chased off all sweet dreams.

When we cut down damaged trees, we left the stumps to rot down on their own, and they’ve just about melted away. My surprise find was in the middle of one of the rotting platforms — a one foot pine tree sapling is growing right where disaster took place.

Most likely, a tiny winged pine seed shook lose from an overhead pine cone (seeds grow under ovulate scales of pine cones). After the fertile seed broke free, it whirly-gigged down — around and around — until it landed on the stump, embedding itself securely enough to root and take hold.

In 2005, I wrote a similar column about a cactus in an oak tree. We saw it in Fredericksburg, Texas. Back then, I spoke with Hal Hollibaugh of Cactus Jungle in Berkeley, California, and he said most likely the prickly pear was “simply an advantageous grower.” Seeds sometimes germinate in odd places if they find enough nutrients.

I really like the horticultural term “advantageous grower.” It has kinship with the maxim, ”Bloom where you’re planted.” Imagine the bemoaning if the petite sapling were a complainer, whining about his foothold: Why couldn’t I grow among the St. Augustine grass like all the other giant pines in the yard? But if his roots had taken hold in the grass, he’d be long gone, mown down months ago.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "For everything you have missed, you have gained something else." Paul advised each Roman disciple, “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” He further encouraged, “Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him” (12:1-2, The Message).

What’s happening in your world? Any lightening strikes of late? Are your roots in plain days or difficult? Whatever the circumstances, the pine sapling is willing to teach its lesson—be an “advantageous grower.”


  1. What is happening in my world? I am recovering from a brown recluse bite. My oldest daughter drove 12 hours to come see me over the 4th of July. My youngest had to go with her back as she could not get a rental car she had reserved. So we loaned her SUV and her and her boyfriend drove it home. Then my youngest daughter and her boyfriend drove it 10 hours back as she found a different route a little quicker.
    I would love to win your book so please enter me. As I know emails are hard to locate my is

  2. I'm allergic to pine and cedar trees, but I love their smell, especially around Christmas. What's going on in my world? A conjunctivitus infection in the eyes from my allergies. I've been fighting an allergy/sinus infection for three months. Been on three different antibiotics. I'll be going to the Allergist next week. Can't figure out the problem, but at least the headaches have subsided. In the meantime, I'm still faithfully working on my manuscript. My email is