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The Resilient Torrey Pine Tree

The Torrey pine tree is the rarest pine in the United States and one of the rarest pines in the world. It is restricted to just two regions in the United States: an island off the California coast and parts of coastal San Diego County.  My husband and I learned more about these rare trees on a recent visit to the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. The Torrey pine has found ways to adapt to its environment and to survive despite many adverse conditions. We all know that California is one of the states struggling with a severe drought.  The very long needles of the Torrey pine have grooves that allow the tree to channel dew and fog droplets to the ground and the waiting roots. The Torrey pine typically will grow in a contorted manner because of its constant exposure to the winds and salt spray that come off the ocean. Many of these trees grow from rocky cliffs and outcroppings. The tree has the ability to put down a long taproot and elaborate system of roots to access moisture.

This amazing tree has also adapted to fire. Fire kills the trees but the germination of seeds is much greater after a fire. Torrey pine cones take three years to mature and the cones can remain on the tree for five years or so. The seeds are gradually released out of the cone over a period of several years. Seeds can remain viable for at least ten years but they must be dispersed by birds or other animals. 

Many of us have had to find ways to adapt to the challenges of life. We may have been labeled with a variety of “diagnoses.” But you cannot put a label on the human spirit.  Personally I know that I need to continue to have my medication monitored, maintain a good support system and practice good self-care as well as preventative care at those times when I feel most vulnerable. Like the Torrey pine, I’ve learned coping skills and have developed inner resources. I relate to the words of Louisa May Alcott who wrote, “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”


May we all find the strength and the faith to meet the challenges and adversities of life even as we celebrate the sacred ordinary of daily living.

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