There are so many species in nature, both flora and fauna, that seem to have life figured out so much better than us. They get what they need from the sun, the rain, the Earth, and we seem to be constantly needing more, even though everything we need to survive simply is provided for us. One of the coolest things about nature is that no naturally existing Eco-system creates anything it can't deal with on it's own. They are all closed loop systems.
One particular species of tree that we have quite a few of along the coast is the unique Arbutus. Canada's only native broad-leafed evergreen tree is found in the dry regions of Southern B.C. and can be found as far south as Mexico. It is a striking tree, that has a different appearance with every season.
It evolves as we do, in stages: in the Fall sprouting clusters of orange berries to feed bird life; taking a respite from showy displays in the Winter and resting, re-booting; blossoming in the Spring with colors and fragrances, as one would rebirth themselves into the world after a period of reflection; and in the Summer, shedding bark to reveal bright new skin, letting go of leaves as if they were heavy burdens and sprouting new ones; always living vibrantly, reaching for the open blue skies, for growth and possibility.
The colours alone make this tree stand out: the deep green of the wide, waxen leaves, the bright orange of the berries, the stark white of the sweet flowers, and the contrast of the deep red bark and the light green skin underneath. The Arbutus is unapologetic in it's vivid existence, which is perhaps a great reminder to us that we should let our own personal vibrancy show our unique personalities. Don 't be afraid to, as they say, show your true colours. And much the way the Arbutus' colours change with the season, so too should we all let ourselves be expressive in as many ways and instances as we feel is true to ourselves.
Arbutus can be found as tall, solitary trunks farther inland, but mostly grow in the shallow, drained soils of the coast. You most often see the twisted branches leaning down a rocky bank, straining towards the salty waves below. There is little that can survive so vivaciously on these almost barren rocky crags. They are drought tolerant trees, meaning they require little water to thrive. Whereas many things in the world, humans especially, are always looking for more, more, more, the Arbutus lives with little; it is a minimalist. If it was human, it would perhaps ascribe to the Zen way of life, only having what it needs, and not taking more. The world could do with a little more of that mentality.
The Arbutus is also a sun worshiper. This leads it to grow in the brightest of spaces. It does not fear a dark tan, it welcomes it. Although we need to be careful in the sun, this quest for light can remind us that even in the darkest of times we should look for the brightness in our lives. We should all be sun worshipers in a way, by being thankful for the shining moments and people we have in our lives.
Strong winds can beat the coastal Arbutus, but it is rare that it breaks. A hard wood that is used for woodworking, it stands strong in the face of adversity of many kinds. If left to grow safely, they can live up to 500 years. That kind of lifetime would offer a lot of stories to tell and a lot of lessons learned.
The Arbutus also reminds us to take care of our planet. It would be a shame if we lived in such a way that even a species that can persevere so much, would be wiped away. Thrive aspires to support the kinds of lifestyles and businesses that value our natural environment and work to preserve it. The next time you pick something up to purchase, think of the Arbutus, in all it's strength and beauty, and make sure your dollars are being spent responsibly and sustainably. If we all move together, we may just save a lot of things worth preserving.