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Location: Midwest, United States

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Hang on to your radicles, peoples. I'm about to go all botanist on you and beat a metaphor to death.

Our plant cousins exhibit two fundamentally distinct root systems. There are the stalwart members of the taproot clan, trees that drill a single root deep into the earth, a root sometimes longer than the tree itself is tall. A taproot so earnest it can cleave stone in search of succor. One cannot help but admire the mountain juniper rooted deep within rock, scarred and twisted by the bitterest winds yet steadfast despite all. Gotta give the taproot kin their props. They aim to stay come hell or high water.

There’s also the fibrous root clan. You’ve seen them...the cottonwoods drowned in rivers, their roots unearthed, exposed naked on the river bank. These roots, you see, are broad but shallow. They feast in benign environments where nourishment comes easy. Come a dry spell, the fibrous root edges farther afield, not deeper. The root roves until satisfied. Members of this clan praise the earth for its generosity by offering abundant shade and exuberant hues in autumn. Gotta love the fibrous-rooters. They dazzle ‘til they die.

Barbara Walters once asked an interviewee: “If you were a tree, what would you be?” She didn’t win a Pulitzer in Journalism for a query such as that. But the funny thing is, I can answer that question with confidence. I’m a birch. A member of the fibrous-root clan. My skin is paper thin, but in the right environment I’ve been known to razzle-dazzle. My roots extend across countries, but I’ve merely scratched the surface. And though I’ve weathered a storm or two, I’m vulnerable.

* * *

Gratuitous Non-Sequitor:

I’ve been told on good authority that a rooster roaming about a horse farm in Maryland has been christened “Jonas” in my honor. I’m also told said rooster has “issues.”

* * *


Blogger Wine and Words said...

Oh, I've got those taproots all over my yard (mother fuckers!). Exposed and naked. I suppose I would rather be thus, although ten years ago I would have answered the opposite. Dunno about dazzling 'til I die. Don't much feel like a dazzler, but rather an observer. Easier to observe unearthed..above ground. Get's hella cold though. Alternately hot! Very few days where the temp is acclimated to me.


You are strong but you’re needy,
Humble but you’re greedy
Based on your body language, your shoddy cursive I’ve been reading
You’re style is quite selective though your mind is rather reckless
Well I guess it just suggests that this is just what happiness is

Well it kind of hurts when the kind of words you write
Kind of turn themselves into knives
And don't mind my nerve you can call it fiction
But I like being submerged in your contradictions dear
‘Cause here we are, here we are

Although you are biased I love your advice
Your comebacks they’re quick and probably have to do with your insecurities
There’s no shame in being crazy, depending on how you take these
Words that paraphrasing this relationship we’re staging

And, what a beautiful mess this is
It’s like picking up trash in dresses.♫ (Jason Mraz)

Tue Jun 07, 10:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I'd be a cottonwood, hardy and tough to kill. They smell good in the spring too. Can you tell I live in Northern Alberta? Not a lot of trees to choose from here:)

Tue Jun 07, 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Oh, Annie, trust me - you're dazzling enough! And speaking of "beautiful messes", have you see Jason Mraz's Beautiful Mess Concert video? (filmed in Chicago)

I'm delighted to find you thinking of yourself as a tree, Lilith. I got me a soft spot in my heart for trees.

Tue Jun 07, 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger June Calender said...

Good post. Not only do we understand what you're saying about yourself, you make us think: which am I? No answer pops up immediately. A whole mess of thoughts are inspired. Its good to have the brain jump-started in the morning.

Wed Jun 08, 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

I'm definitely a member of the taproot clan. My whole family is like that.

But I think there has to be both in the forest of life... for balance.

Wed Jun 08, 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger Wine and Words said...

I saw this concert in Murphys CA. Was the best concert I have ever been too. A small, intimate setting compared to evening outside, wine, and my girlfriends whooping it up on lawnchairs like we were 13 again and totally crushin' on our boy Jason. I love the Sunshine Song!!! Well hell, I love them all. Now see...I've spent 48 minutes of the work day reliving that concert through hulu! Thank you Jonas!

Wed Jun 08, 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger PattiKen said...

Interesting post, Jonas, posing interesting questions. I've always thought of myself as a palm tree. If you've ever seen a palm tree lie down flat on the ground during a hurricane and stand up again once it's gone, you'll know why. Besides, most often, my hair sticking out every which-a-way resembles nothing as much as a palm tree.

But your post made me wonder. Palm trees apparently have a fibrous root system. That said, they shouldn't be able to withstand the abuse Mother Nature sends their way. But they are also "adventitious." Maybe that's why they are so unexpectedly strong.

OK, I am nothing if not adventitious. So palm tree it is.

Wed Jun 08, 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger secret agent woman said...

Would it be possible to have the kind of life where you'd have both a tap root and fibrous? Or some modified system that allows you to be both deeply rooted and a survivor in times of trouble and also at other times vulnerable and stretched more lightly upon the earth. Because it just depends on what moment you catch me. Then again, my answer to most dichotomous systems is "it depends."

"I'm a Libra so I say balance, balance, balance." (Ani DiFranco)

Thu Jun 09, 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Methinks it doesn't take much to rev up a free-ranging mind such as yours, June.

Yes, Ponita, it takes all kinds. Observation: practically every society has a phrase along the lines of "It takes all kinds." In Lithuanian, the phrase is: "Visokiu yra, visokiu reikia." (Translation: We have all kinds, we need all kinds)

I LOVE outdoor concerts! My favorite venues are Ravinia (a venue much like the one you described) and Northerly Island (where the Jason Mraz concert was filmed). One of my most fondly remembered experiences was an outdoor concert decades ago. The Eagles were joined by Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne in an evening of great music, great friends and great vibes.

I've never seen a palm tree laid low spring upright (I'm feeling deprived). Keep on being adventitious, Patti. Me loves the adventitious!

You're messin' with my metaphor, Secret Agent! Both root systems have their advantages and disadvantages. They work best when conditions are ideal.

"I'm a Gemnini and Geminis don't believe in astrology" (The Croupier)

Thu Jun 09, 08:30:00 PM  

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