Hello fellow readers,
I’ve become a street walker – one of those folks seen waving to cars driving by. Which isn’t a bad thing; it’s polite to acknowledge each other and a smile and wave may help lift someone’s spirits. Often times yourself. It’s amazing how even a forced smile can change your outlook and improve whatever is bringing you down.
My street walking days began as a way to calm my then foster dog Miss Ellie. She was filled with heightened anxiety due to her first year of life; living alone in a cage, unprotected from the hot Georgia sun, rarely fed or watered. Compassionate Whitney of Frelinghuysen rescued Ellie as she has many animals in duress. She and Dan had five dogs at the time, she explained, and if I could foster it would be a big help. In truth Whitney and Ellie helped rescue me as it was a particularly tough time of transition. Now my calm southern belle surly thinks it’s her job to take me for a walk.
As we walk I observe in nature glorious evidence of resilience such as a hundred year old maple cut in half during Hurricane Sandy. It quickly grew shoots below its remaining crown that leafed out to photosynthesize and generate enough energy to allow the tree to recover. At first it looked odd – like hairy legs below a short skirt. Now recovery is well underway. That’s resilience.
The day after Thanksgiving, a 60-degree sunny day, I came across forsythia in bloom. Spring bloomers can flower in fall especially when the growing season puts them under stress. Extreme heat or drought can cause growth to slow or even stop. Once cool weather or moisture returns, the plant seizes the signal that it’s time to flower. Will the wacky bloomer survive once the winter arrives? No doubt. Forsythia are tough. There’s lots of reserves in its roots to adjust to whatever Mother Nature has in store. That’s resilience.
There are plants that thrive in extreme settings such as along the Dunnfield Creek Trail or Catfish Pond in the Delaware Water Gap Recreational Area. Mature trees are literally rooted on top of huge boulders there demonstrating remarkable resilience.
In people resilience is a process, rather than a trait, that can be developed. It’s learning coping skills to balance negative emotions with positive ones to help maneuver through stress and adversity. The holiday season can be particularly difficult as we reflect on what once was. May I suggest a wave and a smile?
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