Oak Trees and Prairie Grass 09-June-2009
Oak Trees and Prairie Grass 09-June-2009
I lost a good friend recently. It happens. It made me think of a story though that I've wanted to write for a long time but haven't really found just yet the perfect analogy to go along with it. This will have to do for now.
Prairie Grass has no choice but to grow where it can, because it just doesn't have the potential to be more than it is, and it has to survive outside the shadows of the Oak Trees it shares the prairie with.
Blades of Grass come and go, they flourish in fair weather, they die off quickly in drought. They look really nice on a sunny day, each just like all the others, very consistent. Their roots are shallow and their lives are short. If one is nipped off, eaten, or otherwise lost, another quickly grows back in its' place. Barely noticed. The Oaks in that same prairie though outlive the grass by such a far margin that, to the grass, the oaks must seem like rocks or mountains, for the most part unchanged throughout the entire lifespan of a blade of grass. The Oaks weather the storms and the droughts, good weather and bad, and flourish for a very long time, much slower and more stable, with vastly deeper roots. When lives seek shelter they don't even consider the Grass, they flock to the strong stable arms of the Oaks. Then quickly run off to the grassy field again when the sun comes out. Problem is that, when an Oak falls, nothing grows back in it's place for a very long time and the loss is unrecoverable. Whatever catastrophic event felled the Oak did so permanently. It won't stand back up and recover when the sun comes out. Another oak will take what must seem like an eternity to take the place of the lost one, all the while countless blades of grass come and go. The grass doesn't even notice. The only things that will notice are those that can tell the difference between an oak and a blade of grass. And really very few things will be able to make that distinction, no matter how insignificant the Grass is to them or how essential the Oak was to their survival. That distinction is lost on the larger majority of the Prairie.
The Oak's roots are deep, and it's loss is felt for a very long time. The stump left to mark the spot where the Oak once stood is there long after the log that fell from it has been forgotten. Still deeply rooted, but no longer supporting majesty. What was once a towering thing of beauty turns to dust and all of the root structure that once supported the Oak remains with nothing to feed it, and nothing to feed from it. In the clearing around the stump the grass will quickly flourish in the sun that the Oak once absorbed and further erase any evidence that something greater than the grass once stood there. But the roots that supported that Oak will be buried there for a very long time before the stump turns to dust.
So an Oak Tree couldn't be Prairie Grass if it wanted to be, because of course it is what it is and an Oak is what it was destined to be. Prairie Grass is too shallow to realize that the Oak's existance was a nobler thing, and likewise, it couldn't become an Oak Tree even if it wanted to. Both held their places and responsibilities in the bigger picture of the open prairie.
So I suppose there's nothing wrong with being Prairie Grass or Oak Trees. If there were no Oaks, the Grass would have nothing to pale in comparison to. And if there were no Grass, the Oaks would be as indistinguishable from each other as the blades of Prairie Grass are.
But if you want to stand for something, be remembered long after you're gone, and make a real and lasting impact on the bigger picture of the open prairie, you have to be an Oak Tree. The price you pay for all of those accomplishments is that you have to be willing to live with the stumps that are left behind on the rare occasion that an Oak falls. Maybe the Prairie Grass is truly better off. I honestly don't know.
What I can say though is that some Oak Trees grow where chance or fate or destiny lands the acorn. Some Oak Trees are carefully and strategically planted. The Grass is scattered wildly with little will or thought. Be very selective where you plant the Oak Trees that you plan for. Grass will grow anywhere and any time. In fact you're likely to get really tired of cutting the Grass. You're going to miss that Oak Tree.
Cheers from ThreeFiveZero
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