One of the many news reports I heard on NPR about the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico caught my attention. It was about a tree.

According to the NPR report, one of the most dramatic, visual impacts of the hurricane on Puerto Rico was the denuding of its trees; many of its lush forests were stripped bare. The reporter spent time interviewing Dr. Ariel Lugo, the 74-year-old director of the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. Dr. Lugo is one of the world’s foremost experts on the effects of hurricanes on forests, an area of study he has been pursuing for more than 50 years.

Even though the entire island was no longer lushly green, Dr. Lugo remained optimistic that the forest would revive, although it could take as long as four years. One reason for Dr. Lugo’s positive outlook was a Ceiba (pronounced “Say-bah”) tree on the Institute’s grounds, whose crown was torn off during the storm. The Ceiba tree already was demonstrating its power of resilience. Nine days after the hurricane, as you can see in the image photographer Angel Valentin took for this NPR report, green leaves were sprouting on the remaining branches. Isn’t that astonishing? Nine days!

The tree’s leafy display of resilience was a sign that it was boldly bouncing back, determined to do its job, which includes shade, helping to filter the air and. along with its fellow forest trees, providing shelter for countless species of animals and insects.

The story of this Ceiba tree also serves as an inspirational reminder of the many lessons children and their grown-ups can learn from our environment, especially from trees. As award-winning, nature writer David George Haskell notes in his book, The Songs of Trees, Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors: “To listen to trees, nature’s great connectors, is therefore to learn how to inhabit the relationships that give life its source, substance, and beauty.”

Just like the Ceiba, we all possess the same power of resilience; the same power to boldly rebound from life’s storms, revitalized and ready to thrive.



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