The Spruce

text by Jonathan Ives

My mind races as I sit silently with my hands folded in my lap. All around me in a circle twenty others bow their heads reverently. A violent wind shakes the building, causing me to look out the window. A winter storm hit our area over the weekend and forced me and my wife to scuttle our travel plans. Instead of enjoying three days of swing dancing, music, and fun, we find ourselves here on Sunday morning, at the Quaker meeting house not far from our home. Unable to let go of my feelings of disappointment and frustration, of what could have been to what is now, I sit silently watching the large spruce trees bend and twist outside.

The Eastern Spruce is by far the most common tree on all Maine islands. This rugged tree can withstand extreme winter cold and abuse. Its natural elasticity helps it absorb the shock loads caused by gusting winds. This is what makes spruce the best wood choice for spars like masts and oars. It has the highest strength to weight ratio of all North American softwoods.

I smile as I take a deep breath and release the tensions I brought into the meeting. Holding on to the past makes us all brittle. Eventually we break our branches if we hold on too strongly, thinking we are in control. We could learn from the spruce: we must bend in the winds of change knowing that, with time, we will all spring back.