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Celebrate the Light

Juniper tree drinks in the light on a bright sunshiny day
Juniper tree welcomes the light

As the days get longer and the weather starts to warm up, it's more comfortable to be outside. One of the first things I saw when I spent more time outside was the weeds. They were popping up all over! They like the longer days and warmer weather too!


Plants other than weeds also like the increased light. Trees drink in that extra sunshine. Fruit trees gauge when it's time to sprout blossoms based on how much light they sense.


We're no different. Light revitalizes us. After the shorter days of winter, we drink in that light just as do the trees, the weeds and the rest of the plants. Light gives me more energy. I enjoy being outside when I feel the sun's warmth enveloping me. In spring that warmth is not too hot, so it feels really good.


Sometimes I like to lean on my hoe for just a moment and watch the sun filter through the juniper tree in my front yard. The light sparkles as it touches different parts of the tree. It tunnels through denser branches. It finds its way through every twig, needle and juniper berry on the tree, and it finds its way to me.


When I stand propped up against the hoe as I take a rest from weeding, I remember something my mother-in-law told me one spring day. She and my son, then about eight years old, were joking around as they chopped weeds near the house. When she took a break by using the hoe as a resting prop, my son looked at her with a smile aid said, "Someone's standing up on the job." She thought it was funny enough that it became one of her standard stories about her grandson.


Getting together outside in the sunlight brings families together in heartfelt, fun-loving ways. Yay for increased sunshine. Celebrate the light!

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Trees Recognize Their Offspring

Trees talk to each other and recognize their offspring. That's the title of an interesting article by Derek Markham updated January 11, 2021 on treehugger.com.


In it, Markham wrote that after large tracts of land left treeless from clearcutting are replanted, many people think that replanting is successful. But when one tree is replanted to replace another that has been cut down, it doesn't take into consideration an important reality. Trees form families, and mothers take special care of their tree offspring.


The article quoted forest ecologist Suzanne Simard, who spoke at TEDSummit 2016. She has spent three decades researching trees in Canada's forests. Simard told the listeners that trees are much more than a collection of plants independent of each other.


She began to wonder if trees could recognize their own kin like parents recognize their children and mother grizzlies know their own cubs. So she and others began an experiment in which they grew mother trees with both their kin and with strangers' seedlings. Among the measurements they used was isotope tracing. With it, they traced carbon and other defense signals "moving from an injured mother tree down her trunk into the mycorrhizal network and into her neighboring seedlings." A mycorrhizal network is made up of underground networks created by mycorrhizal fungi that eventually result in mushrooms. Those fungi connect individual plants together. They transfer water, carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients and minerals.


The experiment revealed that mother trees really do recognize their own kin. They do many things to help their seedlings prosper. Mother trees send their own seedlings "more carbon below ground," Simard said. "They even reduce their own root competition to make elbow room for their kids. When mother trees are injured or dying, they also send messages of wisdom on to the next generation of seedlings."


Without any visible proof except my own experience, I've noticed if you spend enough time around certain trees with a respectful attitude, they come to trust you. In a way I don't understand, they let other trees know they can trust you too. If you think that couldn't be, try experimenting with the idea. Spend time around trees you enjoy. Express gratitude for them. Meditate near them. Listen with your heart to sense if they need something from you.


Once you establish a trusting connection with one or more trees, when you travel somewhere else you may sense that trees you don't know want your attention. Somehow they have learned you're someone to be trusted. If you get to know trees, don't be surprised if other trees want your attention as well.


Our world is more connected that we often realize. Just as trees communicate with their own seedlings, they can develop a relationship with us as well. Those connections are beneficial to us if we take the time to cultivate an appreciation for trees.

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