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Friday, March 12, 2010

Bend But Not Break

A few of the best trees to have in your yard during a hurricane are Dogwood, Sand Live Oak, Sabal Palm, Crape myrtle and Southern Magnolia, according to the University of Florida and LSU AgCenter.

This really piqued my interest. What properties do these trees have that set them apart? From what I read on these sites, they share similar qualities:

1. They are slow-growing trees.
2. They have a deep penetrating root system and low centers of gravity.
3. They defoliate, or shed their leaves easily, which equals less branch loss.
4. They have a high elasticity and 'modulus of rupture', which is how much the wood can bend before breaking.

There are also recommendations on how to landscape your hurricane-susceptible yard, according to Florida Gardener.

1. The best chance for survival is when trees are planted in groups.
2. Prune trees regularly to keep their center of gravity low.
3. Keep the root system healthy and plant shrubs around the tree to deflect the wind upward.

I know I'm not the only one making the life-application connection here, but I'll lay it out anyway. (this photo is from Florida, of the Fairchild Oak, one of the largest live oak trees in the south)

When we're striving to quit smoking, lose weight or another big, grand goal, we're going to face storms and high winds. What is going to set us apart from someone else that gets uprooted in the process?

1. We will be slow-growing. We'll take the time to do it right. We'll research, learn and grow steadily.
2. We will have deep roots. We all know diets and quick fixes don't work long term. We'll root deeply for the long haul.
3. We will defoliate. We will shed the baggage that would otherwise take us down. Shed past failures, negative self-talk and other fears.
4. We will be elastic. If we too forcefully try to resist the wind, we will be uprooted. Instead, we will bend under the high pressure, but we will not break.

And, how best to care for ourselves?

1. We will root in groups. We'll find other trees like us and become a stronger part of the landscape together.
2. We will prune regularly. We'll be brutally honest with ourselves to prune bad habits or self-made barriers. This will give us a lower center of gravity.
3. We'll take care of our roots. What good is a great root system without a foundation, encouragement and a sense of purpose?

So, friends, let's choose our favorite of the beautiful, resilient trees above and model our lives after them. After all, they lived through the worst hurricanes on record and survived to give us an example. When our storm passes, we, too, will stand upright again, the way we were created.