Opportunity in Opposition

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The summer of 2012 was a destructive one in the Western United States. Record breaking forest fires scorched the land and caused the loss of homes and hundreds of trees throughout the forest floor. But there was one species of tree that had been eagerly awaiting this fiery force.

The lodgepole pine.

I’m sure most of you have done extensive research on the lodgepole pine, but for those of you who haven’t, let me fill you in on this amazing tree. Lodgepole pines are “serotinous,” which means they have a seed inside the cone that requires an environmental trigger to be released. Bet you can’t guess what that trigger is??


Yep…heat!

The cones of a lodgepole pine are sealed tightly, held together by a layer of resin and woody tissue. Maybe you’ve seen or held one of these cones before. They are rough and closed up, and it would take a ton of effort to open them. These lodgepole pines have to be very patient as they wait to pass on their genetic material. For the pine, the seeds held within the cone need to be released and fall to the ground into good soil to do so. But because these pines need extreme heat - like the heat found in forest fires, they have to be very patient as they wait for the force that is usually thought of as purely destructive.

So after years and years, when a forest fire finally comes along and the lodgepole pine gives up it’s life for the future of its kind, the cones loosen their grip and release seeds that fall to the forest floor. The interesting thing about these seeds is that they love the carbon rich soil that the forest fires leave behind. And in the end, a whole new batch of lodgepole pine trees sprout up out of the burned earth - beauty coming from devastation.


How about you? Some of us are like the lodgepole pine cone - closed up and covered in resin. We can “open up” before the environmental trigger, or one day, the environmental trigger WILL open us up. It’s interesting how we tend to look at loss and description as purely negative events in our lives, but instead, we can choose to see them as opportunities for new things to grow - things that have been there the whole time, but were just waiting for the right opportunity.

Travis Avila