Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sociology of Trees

The weather this year has been quite childish. Spring was unseasonably warm. Once summer arrived, it was relatively mild. Now that autumn is here, summer is throwing a temper tantrum and not wanting to let go. The trees won't let summer get away with it though. They have started turning and shedding their leaves. As I have looked at them on my daily walks, I notice that there are certain trees that seem to be unaffected by peer pressure.

I work at a business that has a large campus, complete with ponds, a playground, parks, dining pavilion, and walking paths. I take a leisurely stroll each day at lunch to clear my head of everything that bombards its way in. I throw my headphones on, crank up the tunes, and forget that five or six people are vying for my attention while my computer system limps along at a snail's pace. It is quite theraputic for me. I usually go alone on my walks, partially so that I can clear my head, and partially because I enjoy introspection. I have noticed that there are some trees that are more social than others.

There are trees that are spaced in the parking lot. They tend to hide the large light poles, but also offer protection from the sun (but add bird targets to your cars). These are the trees that generally start turning the soonest. They can be the same variety as another tree that isn't surrounded by asphalt, but it tends to turn quicker. I don't know if it is because it doesn't have the luxury of grass, or it doesn't have as much space as it wants for the roots to spread, or maybe it is just that the roots don't get the water because of the road. Whatever the reason, these trees turn quickly. Once one of these trees has started, they all quickly follow suit.

Along the paths, there are trees that are kind of clumped together. They don't always butt up against each other, but often times their branches will have grown out to each other to create one tree with three or four separate trunks. Think of a really big hedgerow. These trees tend to be a little bit less likely to turn. Once they do, they work in tandem. Down the road from us, we have a neighbor that has three identical trees planted. One is red, which melds nicely into the yellow tree, which melds nicely into the still green tree. It makes quite an interesting visual palette.

And then there are those trees that have been integrated into their environment the longest. These massive trees just resist the chill of autumn. The crispness in the air doesn't seem to affect them.

I wonder if we are like trees as well. I mean, how many people do you know who go out and do something on their own? There are very few original people out there. As soon as they catch wind that someone is changing colors, they try to change as well. Those with close support systems are less likely to change. They change more gradually, and tend to work as a group. And then there are those who resist change all together.

I would like to think that I am a bit of the second option, mixed with the third. I resist change a lot more than I conform to it. It might be because of my stubbornness, or maybe because I have the clarity to know what I want. I hope it is more of the latter. I still flounder at times, but I keep taking my afternoon walks to help me flounder less. So maybe I am less of the second option, and more of the third.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

learned a lot