Fecundity

It was some years back that I first came across the word “fecundity.”   My recollection is that the word was the title of a book that I bought, written by Annie Dillard, Gretchen Erlich, Barbara Kingsolver — someone of that genre — but, if it was, I no longer have it.  Nor can I locate anything close to it by employing web search.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of books on “fecundity” and that seems only natural if you know what fecundity means.  One dictionary describes it this way:

ability to produce offspring: the ability to produce offspring, especially in large numbers

This particular definition fits with the trend that I found in searching for the book I thought was named “Fecundity”.  Most books with this word in its title seem oriented towards population control and the effects on unbridled fecundity upon civilization.

Shattered oak tree by road along Upper Myakka Lake.

But the book or essay that I am recalling was not of that orientation.  Rather it was an enthusiastic look at the power of life to re-generate even under the most dire circumstance.  I think of the word often in my trips to Myakka River State Park.  It has has crossed my mind during the past weeks as I drove past this old oak tree that had stood by the Upper Lake for many years. You could see it was weakening.  One section had already died and lost leaves, limbs, and bark.  Tropical Storm Debby brushed by Sarasota in late June 2012 and its minimal winds and excessive rain was the final straw for the oak.  It collapsed, part of it blocking Park Drive.  And so the rangers came with their chain saws and cut enough to clear the road.  The debris was pushed to one side and they moved on to the next problem.

It was a month later when I shot this next image.  Springing from the clean cut of the chain saw amputation was a fecund and colorful offspring .

Life springing from dead oak tree.

I first thought it was a small oak, struggling to find the sun and start the process over again.  As I look at it today I think that it may just be a vine of some kind.  But it doesn’t really matter what it might be because that isn’t the point of this essay.  Nor is my goal to praise fecundity because reproducing offspring in large numbers is not especially a healthy concept at this point in our evolutionary course.

The point is to celebrate the grandness of life, a life that can spring hope and rebirth from the shattered ruins of a once proud oak tree.  As humans we are all too likely to just see the shattered tree and feel sadness for what had been.  Peace comes from the acceptance that all things must pass and the knowledge that the world will go on.  ❧

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