Wednesday, January 13, 2016

January 13, 2016 - The Strength of Ice

This small white pine is dramatically covered with ice.  Every single needle, every tiny branch, and the slim trunk are coated with ice.  Each has its own little sheath of ice.  You would think they would all clump together, but they don’t.  Each part of the tree, down to its separate needles, has its own relationship with the ice.  And this is a good thing because if one part falls victim to the ice, not all the other parts will go.

Now, I told you about the ice and what it can do.  The ice is true winter, not the snow as most people seem to think.  Not the cold, either.  It’s the ice that moves a place into the season of death.  Ice can wreak havoc on the landscape, on the plants and animals, and on the water sources.  Once the ice sets in for real, you know that the Lord of Winter has entered the land and is in no hurry to leave it.  The ice imprisons everything.

Imprisoned in ice.

This is just a tiny new tree, perhaps a few years old.  Imagine what the ice does to larger trees.  Eventually they become so heavy with ice, layers upon layers of it, that they droop dangerously toward the ground.  Only the strong survive.  Plenty of trees never make it to a stately age here because of the ice.  First boughs snap, then branches, and then eventually the entire trunk.  “Teenage” trees are by no means out of danger.  In fact, they are usually the ones to snap in two.  They sometimes get too much gangly growth in the summer that is a bit weak, and if a good ice storm or two hits, they’re history.  The birches are especially prone to this demise.

It takes quite a bit of strength, courage, and luck to make it to be a big tree in Maine.  I’d say the same goes for the people here.  There’s something about the ice and cold.  It breeds a different kind of people, a kind of people who have become accustomed to difficulties and hardships.  Many who come here to live will flee at the first serious ice storm.  Hothouse flowers, they are.  The locals just laugh.

We may not have the exotic beauty and intoxicating scents of the tropics here in Maine, but we have something better:  Old oaks.  Stubborn, hard, and indestructible.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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