May 1, 2005 – Bark & Lichen

Here’s all I’m going to say about today from the weather forecast:

“Isolated light rain showers and light snow showers in the afternoon. Breezy. High in the upper 40s. West wind 10 to 20 mph increasing to 20 to 25 mph in the afternoon. Gusts up to 40 mph.” Enough about today!

I’ve been thinking about this bark on an apple tree at the farm.
The bark is starting to get old. There are lichens growing on it. I associate lichens with old places – for example all lichen growing on exposed bedrock in northern Minnesota.

This was one of the first apple trees I planted when we moved to the farm. It was part of a pasture that went to within 75 feet of the house. It makes me think of the consequences of our actions and the understanding that can only come with time and watching life unfold. Anybody can look at a tree, but until you’ve planted one, watched it grow up and get old, you may not really “know” that tree. The time from sapling to maturity gives a deeper perspective. In the past few months, I’ve seen and cut up some trees that were probably planted by some of the first settlers of this farm and I’ve planted some new ones. I haven’t and probably won’t be around to see those trees mature, but seeing the lichen on this tree gives me some sense of the passage of time.

Likewise, I’m aware of the part of life I’m now in – I’ve seen a parent die and watched children be born into the world. There’s a lot more to see – like seeing the children grow to fruition, whatever that may be. There’s something from this passage of time and long-term awareness that seems to be lacking in our disposable and short-attention span culture. I’m grateful that the lichen on a tree can remind me that delayed gratification can indeed be sweeter and richer than a quick fix. Somehow the apple from the tree planted, watered, and pruned by my hand is no contest in satisfaction to the bag of apples I can instantly buy that have been stored in ethelyne-controlled warehouses for months. That’s one reason I like the farm – there are so many of those things in place – and more on the way.