Ok, so I’m a nerd. Whatever.
I get made fun of a lot, even by my friends, for being a huge dork. Granted, it’s more “good-natured friendly-ribbing,” less “angry high school jock,” but still.
Part of that persona also includes some little idiocynchrasies. An affinity for weird pets (Tarantulas, mantises, stag beetles and the like), and a sort of personal fandom for unusual stuff. For example, I have random “favorite” things. My favorite tree is the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). It’s pretty uncommon (and considered a living fossil, as it was thought to be extinct up until the WW2 era of the last century).
Yesterday, while running some errands, my boyfriend and I went to a nursery / garden store to pick up a hose, and driving past their tree selection in the parking lot, I managed to spot a Dawn Redwood among their oak saplings (about about 100 feet distance, nonetheless). He parked, and I hopped out and immediately ran over to check it out. Turns out, they’re charging upward of $100 for a four foot Metasequoia sapling, which is obscene, but it is a pretty affluent area, so whatever.
The picture above is a trimming I pulled from one of those saplings, set in a cup of water. It’s already beginning to put out roots (most redwoods are able to regrow from cuttings), and I’m taking it home with me. I don’t know yet if I’ll plant it outside somewhere, or try to make it into a bonsai, but I’m actually really excited to see how well it grows from the trimming. :)
Little projects like this make me happy, but they make me think, too. I studied environmental biology in college, not so I could make a ton of money after school (because we all see how well that turned out for me), but because I’m passionate about the world around me and the environment in general. I really don’t understand how people can be so jaded and simpleminded when it comes to the world; it’s such a complex, astounding, beautiful thing.
The next time you see a tree, walk up to it, put your palm against its trunk, and think for a second about what it exactly is. Wood, leaves, stems, sure, but beyond that, imagine. A full-grown tree with a trunk with a six foot diameter probably weighs more than 10,000 lbs. — five tons. About three small cars. If that tree is fifty feet tall and has a canopy that stretches fifty feet in diameter, it likely has a root system encompassing about the same amount of space. It grew from a single seed, taking what it needed from the rain and the soil around it to grow; you took twenty years to grow six feet, it took the same amount of time to reach thirty.
Every leaf has multiple layers of specialized cells, some maintain rigor, some provide structural support while simultaneously transporting water and nutrients to the rest of the leaf. All of the green cells absorb and utilize sunlight at a more efficient rate than any man-made machine has ever achieved. Tiny cellular stomata open and close so that each leaf can breathe — taking in carbon dioxide to drive the production of energy. That six-foot trunk has thousands of tubes that move nutrients and water up and down the length of the trunk. Thousands of leafs attached to thousands of twigs — all of which connect to the same transport system in the trunks. Hundreds of miles of complex pathways working together in a synchronicity humans have never attained. A massive root system that extracts everything else the tree needs from the soil around it.
Yeah, I know I overthink things like this, but to me, I’d rather be constantly in awe of the world around me than bored with it. My spirituality will always be in nature; it’s more peaceful, beautiful, and organized than anything mankind has created. I’ve got a twig in some water right now, but I can’t help but wonder what its fate will be. Maybe I’ll make it into a bonsai that I’ll keep on my desk. Maybe it’ll grow into a sapling, and of course there’s always a chance it will just wither.
But maybe, just maybe, forty years from now, that little twig will be a giant redwood, giving shade to my grandchildren.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.