the weak and the strong

I walk through the woods after a storm. A number of trees have fallen. They are smaller than the trees which remain standing – smaller in girth and smaller in height, though of the same type. The woods were harvested about 30 years ago so most of these trees began growing at the same time. The trees which grew faster won more sunlight which enabled them to grow even faster.

The trees which fall down after strong winds couldn’t compete with the stronger trees. Even among the stronger trees there are some which will outgrow the others and get more sunlight and survive until eventually, instead of a thicket of trees there will just be a few large specimens. I suppose I could alter this natural progression. I could select a weaker tree and nurture it with water and nutrients and cut down the surrounding trees and it will respond by growing bigger and stronger.


After walking through the woods I walk through the apple orchard. I come across an apple tree which was weak at the time of purchase and when planted grew crooked. So at the time of planting I staked it upright. I decide that now that it is larger it probably does not need the stake and will probably grow better if the binding which ties it to the stake is removed. I remove the stake. The next day it is windy and when I revisit the orchard the tree is no longer upright. Today I shall stake it again. I wonder if it would have been better off never to have been staked – it would have developed its own strength to resist the winds and would have grown, albeit slightly crooked but independently.

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