In a difficult year, trees may increase their mass by less than one gram! During this time, the tree devotes its limited resources to maintaining the status quo. Like an eternal optimist, the tree concentrates on keeping itself alive until such time that conditions improve.Peter E. Kelly and Douglas W. Larson, The Last Stand: A Journey through the Ancient Cliff-Face Forest of the Niagara Escarpment p. 75
This eternal optimist tree is the eastern white cedar, Thuja occidentalis. On the cliff-faces of the Bruce Peninsula and the Niagara Escarpment, some white cedars survive hundreds of years. There, these ancient trees form a scraggly and gnarled old-growth “forest.”
Challenged by gravity, root-limited, and exposed to weather, the cliff-face cedars escape competition from other trees. While they grow exceptionally slowly under these challenging conditions, other trees cannot survive at all.
For me, this shelter-in-place is not the time for productivity. I’ll take my cue from the cedars: persist, wait, and remain optimistic about better times ahead.
The Last Stand: A Journey Through the Ancient Cliff-Face Forest of the Niagara Escarpment is a great guide to these fascinating trees.