The Birch Tree, Part II
(Read Part I of Stories of Belonging: The Birch Tree in our Bend Chamber of Commerce MAY Member Focus.)
Central Oregon’s beauty inspires in us a sense of belonging, of being a part of something larger than ourselves. Our neighbors are as diverse as the habitats they call home and can teach us a great deal about co-existing. Here’s your neighbor of the month!
The adaptive capacities of the birch tree (Betula) were noticed by various ancient peoples, including the Celts and the Native Americans, as they carefully observed their environments. This magnificent tree became to them a profound symbol of Renewal and Adaptability. And yet paradoxically, while the birch was a striking symbol of renewal, it was also a continual reminder of stability and structure. When one looks at the ways some of the Native American tribes utilized this valuable tree, it is easy to see why this was the case. The birch-bark canoes that were fashioned from its thin bark were exceptionally strong and stable, and could be built to an incredible size. The largest ones were capable of carrying about 50 paddlers and were around 24-feet long!
The stability of birch bark also made it invaluable for creating highly weather-resistant meeting lodges, homes, and shelters of various sizes. Since birch bark can dry to a rigid form, one could even make a cast out of it for a broken bone, by wetting the bark and letting it dry around the limb! And it wasn’t just the bark that enabled survival; ancient tribes carried birch wood fragments around with them as kindling. It can serve as a valuable igniter, as it will begin to burn even when damp. In this respect, the birch can remind us that even if our spirits have been dampened by the vagaries of daily life, we can always re-ignite from the vital spark of passions which still dwell deep within us!
The birch is a family of beautiful, adaptable trees that are capable of teaching us a great deal about co-existing, stability, and thriving during tough conditions. If we focus our awareness, we can see that we have a lot in common. Seeing them as fellow inhabitants of this special Central Oregon space that we call home provides us with even more incentive to take great care of the natural environment that we all share!
About Karen Malanga: Karen is deeply planted in Central Oregon, as one of the area’s most experienced, knowledgeable and top-producing Bend Oregon real estate professionals. Clients can tell you that looking at real estate with Karen is like getting a guided tour of the community! Branch out and discover this month’s featured “nest” listings HERE.