Looking to Nature

Seemingly dismal circumstances can be the key to life.

Contributor: Saffron & Sage
Photographer: Sarah Shreves
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Take a look at a pinecone. I mean really look at it. The layers of spines and seeds and sap. Hold it in the palm of your hand. It is the beginnings of a tree. The scales open up at only certain times of the year; only under certain conditions. When the season is right, the trees will drop their cones, throwing them all over the ground. Some of the seeds tucked away in the cones’ scales will reach the perfect amount of sun and soil and sprout into another tree. Some trees take easy to the ground; others take specific, and rare, circumstances. Take the lodgepole pine tree: they will drop their cones every season, but the cones are glued shut. The tightly closed cones will only pop open if fire is present. To many, fire means destruction. For the lodgepole, fire means reproduction. Life.

Take a look at the ruby-throated hummingbird. A tiny buzzing bird, whose wings beat more than 50 times a second, and can cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight. A bird who needs to eat every 15 minutes in order to keep up with its own metabolism. This miraculous creature migrates from central Mexico to as far north as Canada every year. You’ll see them buzzing around your house in late spring, and if you’re dutiful enough to keep your hummingbird feeder full, they’ll stick around until September before traveling back south. They weigh barely more than a penny, and yet can survive--even thrive--flying thousands of miles every year back and forth from their nesting sites to their wintering grounds. 

So what is it that makes us think we can’t survive--and thrive--in the same fashion? Certain trees only reproduce when there is fire, which could be decades, centuries of waiting. Birds smaller than the palm of your hand face amazing circumstances just to raise their chicks and make it back south in time to survive the winter. Life throws struggle at us, and we can question ourselves. Our minds as well as the changing seasons have powerful control over our perception of both our lives and the world as a whole. As the weather changes and the Earth can’t decide if it wants to be winter or spring, our emotions can swing as well. 

Next time your body tells you that you just can’t go on with your day, or your mind convinces you that taking time for yourself is a waste, think of a tree or a hummingbird, and remind yourself that you are just as capable of thriving. Use that time to have a turmeric milk latte or sauté some asparagus with garlic and kale for antioxidants and energy. Make time to write in your journal in the mornings. Write about your goals for spring, perhaps spending more time out in nature, observing the wild itself. Watch the wildflowers with bees on them; the chatter of sparrows as they feed their chicks. Make that time to make yourself worth it.

 
Looking to Nature