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Friday, September 2, 2011

Tenacity and persistence: Guest post #2 by Raymond Alexander Kukkee

Everybody knows of at least  one example of tenacity and persistence. The person that refuses to give up against incredible odds,  the participants in miracles,   the tiny, ignored  runt of the litter that survives.  How about J.K. Rowling,  the  single mom  that becomes the  richest author in the world,  or the one seed out of a thousand  that sprouts and grows, saving a species from extinction. They continue to amaze, and rightly so.  Why do they persist and succeed?

I  like  the idea of tenacity if only for the fascinating concept of observing  the  characteristics  of the extraordinary one that does survive  and promise to  outgrow, live and produce, something like my  Charlie Brown apple tree  in  "Life's little Successes" saved by tenacity and persistence.  Well, let's add a bit of refusal to die, gardener's stubbornness and  some eternal optimism, the curiosity of experimentation, and such other factors easily plucked from the air, but you get the idea.

We have to digress a bit.  See the picture?  It's a stump, a very large one.  White birch,  or what remains of a huge dual trunk.

The  Paper Birch, Betula Papyrifera, a magnificent part of Northern Ontario almost seems doomed to pass into memory. The beautiful birch, also known as the canoe birch, silver birch,  or western paper birch,  has white, paper-like bark that has layers as delicate as fine paper or thick as old canvas that can be peeled off.  Some bark sloughs off naturally.  Fine stands of these trees are almost ghost-like in certain lighting conditions.

Magnificent trees?  Yes.  Invincible?  No.  They are attacked by bronze birch borers, typically causing tree die-back from the top down. The tops break off, and the  larger branches and trunk being essentially waterproof like a birch bark canoe, (imagine that coincidence) the tree soon falls prey to decay and ultimately dies.

 It behooves us to use the beautiful hardwood if possible, and for a year or two  after the tree begins to succumb to the bug, the wood remains solid and usable for furniture or other creative  purposes. 
Interestingly,  if one fails to cut down a  dying paper birch before the last branches die off, the root system does not survive,  but if cut soon enough, a number of saplings will spout from the stump.
The photo included herein is the one-in-a thousand instance in nature that should teach us the power of tenacity and persistence in nature. A lesson we can probably benefit from.  The majestic dual-trunk birch was probably 80 years old or more, and finally caught the attention of the insects. Alas, it had to be cut down a couple of years ago. Being close to the abode and dangerously leaning, was left by the power of procrastination and was very dead, -- no chance of sprouts left.

Oh yeah?  Look at the picture. On top. See little twin-trunk clone, the King of the Castle, the winner, the number one contender in nature--admittedly yet a runt, but soon to be giant?   Ha!  Harry Potter wizardry?  Somehow I doubt it.

 Nature has us stymied once again.  Maybe Glory Lennon's  happy zeitgeist is so busy she spreads her enthusiasm to hopelessly dead wild birch trees too.  It seems there's always hope left, no matter what happens.

Now that's  how to be tenacious and persistent.
Raymond Alexander Kukkee is another of my Helium buddies who happens to be an avid gardener, too. While his blog Incoming Bytes deals mostly with politically charged current events he often veers off the marble steps of city hall and takes a leisurely stroll into the garden. He is always welcome to my garden to impart his observations and the bits of wisdom he gathers from his own garden.


  1. What a wonderful inspirational message. And once again the zeitgeist made an appearance. Alex may well go down in Helium history for introducing us to that word.

  2. Perfect timing for Raymond's uplifting message of tenacity in the wake of Hurricane Irene. :-)


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