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Volume 2, ISSUE 3

05/06/2020 07:51:00 PM


Eve Judith Lowenstein (aka Sidlow)

On Flowering Trees, COVID and Resilience

"My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon." 

-    Mizuta Masahide (17th century Japanese poet and samurai)

I would like to thank the readers who have been a captive audience and instrumental in management of my newly acquired COVID-related insomnia. Writing has given me something productive to do during the wee hours of involuntarily all-nighters, and it is appreciated. 

A new Vacczine volume with a positive perspective is fertile ground for a fresh start.  What can be more hopeful than the renewed life of springtime and breathtaking nature?  The fruit blossom trees these past weeks have been a bright spot in my walks, but also a source of discovery.  Among the beautiful trees, I noticed a fascinating discovery: Natural tree grafting, or inosculation. What is that? you ask.  

Intentional grafting as a horticulturists technique was developed by the Ancient Chinese and brought to Britain 2,000 years ago by the Romans. It offers a variety of advantages, including hardiness, precocity and disease resistance.  While grafting is used deliberately, for example, in propagating grapevines, its first occurrence was and continues to be spontaneous in nature.  These past weeks in my walks around the 'hood, I found several examples of natural magnificent graft hybrids. (see pictures below)


Have you seen these trees on your daily walks?  Why not try a play at botanical 'Where's Waldo' and find them the next time you are out and about.  One of them is within a few hundred feet of YINW.

Natural inosculation is emblematic of resilience expressed by living things striving to survive.  Nature is full of these adaptations and human nature is no different.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but these adaptations can actually be life-saving.  For example, individuals who carry the sickle cell disease trait (one gene affected and the other normal) have a protective advantage that confers resistance to infection from malaria, which kills over one million people (mostly children) a year in Sub-Saharan Africa.  It is thought that this is why the genetic ‘polymorphism’ (a preferred moniker to genetic ‘defect’) has survived over thousands of years. 

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it."

Helen Keller

My brother-in-law's 92-year-old mother is in the ICU right now, having undergone emergent gastric surgery a week ago for a perforated ulcer.  She went into septic shock, her liver and kidney took a hit; she may have had a stroke and heart attack.  In the face of it all, she tenaciously fights for her life.  With the hospital on COVID lockdown, no family members are permitted, so I was the one to see her off to the OR and have been the only visitor to hold her hand since.  Today, I stood at her bedside singing happy birthday over the phone to her daughter.  The family does Facetime: it is better than nothing, but it feels unnatural, pathetic, wrong.  Like some graft, I am insinuated as interloper in talks between a child and their parent.  I struggle to put on a sanguine face, but for today, resilience isn't a brave, loud and clear roar, but rather a quiet sob at the end of the day, followed by saying to myself: "We work with what we have. Tomorrow will be better."
Why mingle breathtaking spontaneously engrafted blossoms with the down and dirty struggle to live?  They may seem opposed, but resilience and hardship/loss are actually twins, never too far apart.  We experience sorrow and loss, but we are not lost. Rather, it is in the creative grafting we do in our own lives and within our spirits; the HOW in our choice to overcome, which makes us feel most alive and most purposeful. It is perhaps what allows us to become our truest selves.  

By: Eve Judith Lowenstein (aka Sidlow)

Fri, September 22 2023 7 Tishrei 5784