I grew up in a region of the country often called ‘tornado alley’. I remember my mom urging me and my brothers and sister into the bathtub of the only bathroom we had—and then hovering over us while thunder and lightning crashed outside our home. I was too young to fully understand what was going on but I will never forget the look of fear on my mom’s face. I understood the danger completely, though, as a young mother myself--holding my baby daughter tightly in my arms when we had to be evacuated from our flooded home in the aftermath of tornadic weather.
The survivors of this week’s horrific tornado onslaught have been through intense, surreal trauma and they are suffering. They need as much help as we can spare. Donations can be made through this link:
In a previous posting, I wrote about the familial interactions I saw in the Maasai Mara. I was so fortunate to observe mothers of several species—elephants, chimpanzees, zebras, warthogs, gazelles, cheetahs, leopards—caring for, playing with, teaching their young. But did you know that even the flora of the Maasai Mara interact with each other? The acacia tree is common in the sub-tropical African Savannah. Whenever I see the iconic umbrella shaped silhouette, I am immediately drawn back to memories of the dusty, orangey haze of the African mara.
African acacia trees are a preferred food source of giraffes, probably because these trees have higher protein levels in their leaves than many other trees. Over time, acacia trees have evolved long spines and hooked thorns to protect themselves from foraging giraffes. The problem is that giraffes have also evolved, developing long, dextrous tongues that are capable of evading the long thorns of the acacia tree.
What to do? Well, acacia trees have another, much more rapid solution to the problem. African acacia trees produce increased leaf tannin as a defense against excessive browsing by giraffes. The higher level of tannins can be lethal to giraffe and other browsers. But in addition to this, the trees will emit ethylene into the air, warning trees downwind that a herbivore is nearby. Acacia trees receiving the aerosolized message will also increase their own production of tannin. How cool is that? Acacia trees are members of a supportive community that chemically communicate with one another. My human community has much to learn from the cooperative behavior of not only the wildlife of the Mara, but also the trees themselves.
Poem of the Day
Sea Glass by Bernadette Noll
I want to age like sea glass,
Smoothed by tides
but not broken.
I want my hard edges to soften.
I want to ride the waves
and go with the flow.
I want to catch a wave
and let it carry me to where I belong.
I want to be picked up and held gently
by those who delight in my well earned patina
and appreciate the changes I went through
to achieve that beauty.
I want to enjoy the journey
and to always remember that
if you give the ocean something breakable,
it will turn it into something beautiful.
I want to age like sea glass.
Song of the Day
Gulf Coast Girl, song by Caroline Jones, featuring Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, Lukas Nelson, and Mac McAnally