We woke up this morning to snow. A winter storm has finally arrived to Saint Louis and all I want to do is sleep the day away. My kids of course are elated. They want to go outside. They want to build snowman and play snow angels. And I simply want hot tea with some blueberry scones. To indulge them, we watched from our window, snow falling from the sky. I looked and saw most of our trees covered in snow. My mind kept wandering out loud, how do trees survive the stress of freezing temperatures. I did a little reading and discovered that when trees are exposed to freezing temperatures, all aspects of their being are exposed to ice.
Some trees adapt by either escaping, avoiding, or tolerating extreme cold temperatures. With escaping, trees shed their leaves in the Fall and into winter periods. No wonder, most trees are leafless during winter. It’s as if they take the time to shed dead lifeless weight during the fall. With avoidance, trees undergo a deep supercooling process, whereby the water within cells remain in liquid phase even at sub-zero temperatures. So irrespective of how low or sub freezing temperatures may get, water within trees remain in unfrozen condition. So there maybe chaos all around, super cold ones too, but internally, the key things that make you whole remain intact, oblivious to the chaos. Finally some trees simply tolerate the freezing temperatures. They do so via a host of biochemical adaptations that enable them to loose their cellular water to extra cellular ice, which in turn, allows the trees to tolerate freezing temperatures and the process of ice in their tissues. In some cases the cells of these trees undergo dehydration as they tolerate the stresses associated with the presence of ice in its tissues.
I tried to imagine what I would do if I were a tree, and honesty I would simply escape. Of course, staying intact or tolerating life’s chaotic moments seems reasonable, but I still hate to freeze and escaping makes more manageable sense to me. So I’ll escape. Anything to shed dead weight will do. We have been in a season of escaping since the pandemic began, that it only makes sense to live like trees in the middle of a snowstorm. Words are not living, cannot breathe or walk, but can allow us to escape all the moments we find ourselves freezing. I am using words to escape in ways trees escape in preparation for freezing stress. Read below.
We woke up to an escape.
We could either avoid or tolerate.
Our trees were covered with snow.
Tall ones, and small ones in an icy bloom.
To see trees covered in ice.
To see branches exposed to freezing stress.
Unreasonable episodes of frost.
Made me stop to ponder, how do trees survive freezing?
Survive being covered in ice.
Survive unimaginable freezing stress.
Survive even as it snows.
I remember leaves shedding in the fall.
By winter, most trees were leafless.
Could it be to first survive, you must shed,
All things lifeless and small
All things soundless that fall
All things needless that stall
All things restless that bawl
All things aimless that sprawl
All things helpless that gall
All things useless you haul
These things are worthless in snowfall.