“Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree, in the midst of them all.” ~Buddha
I remember in a social psychology class in college studying groups and people and how we react, act and interact. One of the lessons centered on waiting in line and the when and why we decide to leave the long line. Do we stick it out or decide that maybe it is futile? Realizing all the while we might get up to the front of the line eventually, but is it really worth the wait? How do we decide, how do we react?
Fascinating stuff that taught me some pretty powerful lessons about why I act the way I do, and that there are times when it is better to just walk away. Sometimes you can see it coming and you have a chance to go a different way. Sometimes it just happens and we decide how to handle it…do we react or respond proactively?
I think nature has had the most profound effect on me in this regard. It has taught me a great lesson in control and letting go. Where else are you facing harsh conditions that are not the norm, and you have to try and remedy the situation. Of course you can react, but after all, ‘it is what it is’. I find that phrase freeing. It is simple and succinct. It says it all. Think about the past few seasons. Several killing freezes in April followed by extreme heat and drought. We have had winters that seem to go on forever. Blight and pests that kill whole crops right before our eyes.
So what do you do when faced with these obstacles? I have learned to see the lessons within and try to make the best of the situation. It still doesn’t quiet all the angst, but it helps. Nature has taught me there is always another season, that there are small miracles amongst the doom and gloom and that nothing can be taken for granted.
It is a valuable lesson to loosen our grip on the fantasy that we have any control especially when it comes to nature. And so I have discovered that surrendering to what is inevitable is many times the best thing to do. When I was growing up we were taught to never surrender. To fight until the bitter end. But I have found my greatest success and my greatest strength in surrender. In letting go of the control or perceived control. Giving into the situation. It is a far braver thing to do, and it helps me relieve any suffering caused by the situation.
Surrender is a form of asking for help from within, to look for a solution or to seek help from others. But without the surrender I cannot find the solution as the tight grip of control will blind me to any other possibilities. A great weight is lifted when I say OK I have surrendered; changed my mind, let go of my agenda, decided to go a different way. My body reacts by finally releasing the stress and I know deep down to my core I am now moving in the right direction.
“Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.” ~Gail Sheehy
So you would think my latest situation would have me well trained to handle any crisis, but I don’t think I had ever imagined anything quite like what is going to happen. Recently we found out that we will lose all but 2 of our large mature trees in the back of the house. As many of you are already experiencing in other states, we have the dreaded emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive pest from Asia, here in NY. It is just a couple of counties to the west of us, and our state agencies are telling us that it is not if they will come, but when. NY will lose all its ash trees within the next 10 years, and among these are my 8 wonderful trees. I wrote about this already in a post at Beautiful Wildlife Gardens. You can read all about the beetle that is wreaking havoc there.
And the worst part is we are being asked to consider taking the trees down now, as there will not be enough arborists or tree service folks available to take the trees down once they are dead, and will be very dangerous. If you wait until the trees are infected, the trees will likely fall down and cause lots of damage. My trees are between 50 and 80 feet tall. They are all over the garden providing shade for me, the garden and wildlife. Food and shelter for some critters, and such beauty.
How can I cut down these beauties that are alive and well? I am feeling the need to lament about my trees; to mourn them. Every time I begin to think about cutting them down, I feel sick to my stomach and begin to tear up. After all these are living, breathing beings. And before you ask, yes you can spray and hang up traps, but it will not stop the EAB. It will slow them down, but not by much.
So we are working on a plan. Our largest most beautiful tree already has a problem we have been fighting; carpenter ants. We have controlled the situation, but the EAB looks for weak or sick trees and attacks them first. So this fall or next spring we are cutting this tree by 1/2 to 1/3. Then we will cut down some of the other larger trees and replace them. I will not cut all of them. Some will be cut in half and left as snags for wildlife. The cost is going to be outrageous. At least $2000 a tree. And there is the cost of replacing the trees.
Of the 8, I hope to cut down 5 and leave 3 as snags. If I cut them all down at once we lose 90% of our shade which will profoundly affect the garden. So we will cut the trees down a couple at a time spacing the replacements out over 5 years hoping to give each new tree time to grow in. If our timing is good we will give the garden time to adjust slowly while staying ahead of this pest. When I developed this plan, I knew it was the best way to mitigate the circumstances and damage because it felt like a weight was finally lifted. I don’t think I can be home when the trees are felled. It will be too much for me to bear. But maybe I need to go through it…I don’t know.
We will have 2 medium swamp maples that will remain. I plan to replace the ash trees with other wonderful natives like Eastern redbud, American Basswood, Dogwood and oh I don’t know there are so many choices. I am leaning to those that flower or bear fruit instead of nuts. What would you decide to do if you were going to lose all your trees? And what trees would you choose as replacements?
“Surrender is faith that the power of Love can accomplish anything even when you cannot foresee the outcome.” ~Deepak Chopra
I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
I hope you will join me for my posts once a month on the 3rd Tuesday, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. The next one will be on the 16th.
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