Remembering another June, seven years ago in 2012...
"June was an emotional month. After helping with a neighborhood garage sale, I was hoping July would be more regenerative, but life was reminding me it was still June: while out to dinner with an out-of-town friend, we received the call that Ken's brother with Parkinson's had fallen off his bicycle and was at the hospital emergency department with a fractured cervical vertebrae.
"One of the joys of working with children under the age of six years old is experiencing their intellectual honesty. Their agendas are simple; they are open and honest about their thoughts and feelings. I learned at an early age that openness and honesty are important to me, in both expressing my own thoughts and feelings and others expressing themselves to me. As an adult I learned that in times of crisis it is important to be honest with myself and my loved ones.
"So, here I am being painfully honest with you, dear reader. Oh, *!&*! I wanted to run away! Would the devastating events ever end? Where are You when I need You, God? Please, please, O God, help us now! Is this what it feels like to be a Jack pine in a forest fire?
"The Jack pine is the smallest of our native pines, and the only Minnesota pine tree with short needles. The short-needled trees typically sold as Christmas trees are usually spruces and firs. Mature Jack pine seed cones are curved and sealed shut with resin, making them look like large grubs. The bark is usually grey or brown with scaly or flaky ridges. In favorable conditions (sandy soils and bright sunlight) they can grow up to one hundred feet tall, but are usually shorter. One Jack growing in the BWCA had been aged at two hundred forty-three years old as of 2008.
"Jack pine seedlings need direct sunlight; they will not survive under a shaded forest canopy, so other pine species will take over. This is where fire fits in. Natural, periodic crown fires melt the resin that seals the cones. The mature trees may die in the fire, but soon after the fire passes, the unsealed cones release their seeds into the ashes. The new seeds grow quickly in the fertile soil created by the ash, and bright unimpeded sunlight. The result is a beautiful, pure stand of like-aged Jack pine that are free to grow well into maturity, unimpaired by other trees seeking sunlight." (from Chapter Seventeen, The Lakes In My Head: Paddling An Unexplored Wilderness, Lesli Chinnock Anderson, Xlibris Publishing, 2017)
I am determined to have the tenacity of a Jack pine cone. Fire will not hurt me, it will actually help me. The fire of the trials and tribulations of life, will open me up to teach me new things, not destroy me. I don't seek out fire, but I trust that when it comes my way it will open me up to show me more about myself, my friends, my family, and God. I will welcome life's challenges, knowing that in the end they will make me a better person, not a bitter person.