Two Trees … Two Lives

As we walked through the Redwood Forest in Northern California, we were awed by the beauty, the grandeur of these magnificent trees that average 240 feet in height. I grew up in Southern California but rarely did my parents have opportunity to go that far north. Eight hundred miles was a long way in the 1950s, and I saw the Redwoods only one time in my childhood.

But this was 2018, Carol & I were on our year-long jaunt around the US of A, and childhood memories came flooding through the canals of my mind. On November 14 we visited the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and on December 8, we visited the Calaveras Big Trees State Park – in the snow, of course – with our son, Ron, and his family.

There are basically two divisions of giant Redwoods: Giant Sequoias (sequoiadendron gigantem) are found in the California Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Coastal Redwoods (sequoia sempervirens) grow near the Northern California coast.

Some Giant Sequoias grow 300 feet tall, have a diameter up to 35 feet (that’s almost 110 feet in circumference!), have a root system which can cover several acres, and be more than 3,000 years old. For history buffs: a tree that old sprouted about 100 years after Charlemagne died, the timeframe when Eric the Red (Viking) established the first colony in Greenland, and the beginning of the Mayan Post-Classical period. The Coastal Redwoods can grow 370 feet tall – the tallest trees in the world – with trunks up to about 30 feet in diameter (95 feet in circumference).

Loggers had cut about 90% of these colossal trees for housing, furniture, etc.; but various conservation groups appealed to Congress to preserve the Redwoods, and the state and national park systems succeeded in rescuing the remaining 10%.

 As Carol and I walked among the trees, we saw a number of them that looked as though two or three had been planted together. Standing very close together with 8-foot diameter trunks, it looked as though someone had poured liquid bark on the trees ten feet off the ground which solidified, connecting the trees. Looking at this photo carefully, you can see where the bark has joined the two trees.

Yes, they had grown up together – the seeds having landed about ten feet apart. As seedlings, ten feet is a long distance. But as they grew and their trunks began touching, a phenomenon called inosculation took place. This funny word means to connect or join; to become one or make continuous; to unite.

As each of them grew in width at about an inch per year, they began touching in 120 years. As the trunks or branches rubbed together and wore off the bark, the live fibrous tissues touched each other and began intertwining. They didn’t get infected, and the trees became one plant, sharing nutrients and water.

Depending on how close trees are, either the bark joins and becomes one covering around both trees, or the tree trunks themselves physically join and become one tree. The trees that fuse together like that are called Hugging Trees. And together, they are stronger than individual trees.

Trees and bushes are not the only organisms that experience inosculation. This interesting phenomenon takes place when a person receives a skin graft. Through inosculation, the blood vessels and skin tissues connect, intertwine, and become one.

As I stood in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park gazing at these two magnificent works of God that had become one, I began thinking about my relationship with Carol.

We were born in different states. Eighteen years later we met in Southern California in college. Both of us lived on campus, and – attracted to each other – we saw each other in classes, during meals in the cafeteria, and in the choir.

Married August 22, 1966, we began growing together – yes, including rubbing each other the wrong way sometimes. But we didn’t allow the irritations, the inconveniences, the frustrations, and occasional anger to infect us as we wore off the rough edges; and over the years we became one in many ways.

We share the same house, the same joys, the same children, the same grandchildren, the same church, the same God. We have the same basic goals in life. We even react in much the same way, and at times spontaneously come up with the same ideas. We’ve grown strong together.

Two trees…two lives. It’s amazing how two individuals can develop a strong marriage if they stay together, weather the storms of life, and learn to truly love each other.

Reaching for Life

I’ve been looking at my pictures of the redwood forest in Northern California. The trees are big! Our pine tree in back yard that is over two and a half feet in diameter looks big; but it is small compared to a relatively small five-foot diameter redwood tree. Amazingly, redwoods that are 10-18 feet in diameter are common, and it staggers the imagination knowing that the diameter of the General Sherman Redwood is over 32 feet!

A typical farmed redwood tree may weigh 50,000 pounds, but some redwoods weigh over 2,000,000 pounds! Interestingly, about half the weight is in the water. The redwood bark may be 2-feet thick, and a huge redwood tree may provide wood to build 30-35 homes.

Water is necessary for life. The redwoods grow to 250-350 feet tall and require over 100 gallons per tree per day. But it rains a lot in these forests, snows in the winter, and fog is prevalent; therefore, they are seldom thirsty. The root systems of redwoods are shallow, and that would mean a heavy wind or flood could topple them easily. But as they reach for life-giving water, a mature tree spreads its roots over 2 to 4 acres; and with 8 to 20 trees per acre, the root systems overlap and intertwine which results in a strong foundation for these top-heavy giants. They effectively support each other in rough times.

Light is also necessary for life. God engineered plants to reach for or aim toward light. This is called phototropism. The same is true of these giant trees. Programmed to be tall anyway, they continue to reach for life – for sunlight. Lone trees out in the open will not be as tall as those in the forest with a thick canopy of foliage; and they are also open to more danger. There is protection among its neighbors.

The mature redwoods are basically fire-resistant. The thick, fibrous bark does not burn easily; and as a protective shell, it insulates the tree which allows it to survive most fires. The thick bark also provides protection of another kind: it has the ability to withstand fungus, disease, and insect attacks. This is why these trees live so long. The oldest known redwoods are about 3,000 years old. Only the bristlecone pines (about 5,000 years old) are known to be older.

Looking at the pictures of these magnificent trees, my mind gravitates toward humanity. I see similarities. No – not about size, but about other features and qualities.

The redwood’s root system covers a wide area which gives it stability in inclement weather. In the same way, our roots in healthy relationships with family, church, and society give us stability during “inclement” situations such as death, job loss, health deterioration, and more. In our many storms of life, we need each other for emotional and physical support. But our strong roots in a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ will help us even more in this life on earth, as well as throughout eternity.

 A straight tree is stronger than a crooked tree, and its wood is useable in more situations. Likewise, a morally and intellectually straight man is stronger, trustworthy, where an immoral or double-minded man is weak, confuses people, and leads people down the path of destruction.

Trees must reach for the light to survive. In the same manner, man must reach for light – truth – to survive. We cannot survive very long, either societally or spiritually, if we live in spiritual and moral darkness. We cannot mature as morally strong individuals if we resist truth.

As the thick bark protects the trees, living in truth will protect us. Knowing the truth about various aspects of life – food, environment, chemicals, health, morals, physiology, and a lot more – can help us live safely. And purposefully living according to the truths found in the Bible will protect us in many ways most people don’t yet understand.

As the trees depend on water from the sky for life, man depends on guidance from the sky – direction from God – for life. Psalm 1:1-2 tell us not to follow the advice of ungodly people, but to meditate on and live according to the words of the Lord. Psalm 33:11 tells us that God’s plans are good, healthy, and beneficial. And Proverbs 14:11-12 warn us that man’s apparently powerful plans will fail in the end, but God’s seemingly weak plans are actually strong and will stand forever. Trust in Jesus: Reach for Life.

Don’t Oil the Roller!

One of my occupations in our early marriage was home appliance repairman. Although my journeyman certification was with the Frigidaire Company, I repaired all makes.

We lived in a town of about 20,000 population, and with only three repairmen in town, I often received calls in the evening. Depending on planned family activities or the nature of the call, I would either go to work after dinner, or schedule it for later.

One evening, Carol prepared a Chef Boyardee dinner. I remember the slogan: “Thank goodness for Chef Boyardee.” Two-year-old Jeremy was doing quite well maneuvering his spoon to his mouth without spilling too much nourishment; but as you can guess, some portions were reaching the floor. That was okay because our Maine Coon cat, Taffy, was on duty.

After dinner, all six of us – kids, parents, and cat – were having a pleasant evening playing Toss-Across. That’s a game of tic-tac-toe played by tossing small beanbags to flip the squares (with Os and Xs) on the large plastic frame ten to twelve feet away. During my turn, the phone rang.

“Good evening.”

“Mr. Linzey, do you work on Frigidaire washers?”

“Sure do. The company calls them Roller-matic machines.”

“My machine is squealing – how does the thing work, and can it be fixed?”

“Number one: Don’t oil the roller! There are no gears, belts, pulleys, or clutch plates – just four rollers that are operated by the direction of the spin of the motor and action of the solenoids. When the motor spins clockwise, the machine agitates the clothes. When the motor reverses, the tub spins out the water. But don’t oil the roller.”

“How do I get it to stop squealing?”

I told him the part number of the complaining roller, where to order it, and how to replace it. Since it was a difficult procedure, I also told him that if he ordered the $24 roller, I could replace it for a service call of $30 if he wanted me to. Then I warned him, “If you oil the roller, the machine will stop operating altogether.”

“Thank you, Mr. Linzey. I’ll think on it.”

I turned to Carol and said, “He’ll oil the roller.” Then we returned to the game. Carol won.

About 20-minutes later, the phone rang again.

“Good evening.”

“Mr. Linzey, the squealing stopped, but now the washer won’t do anything.”

“You oiled the roller, didn’t you?”

“Yes, to stop the squealing. What do I do now? And can you come over tonight?”

“There’s nothing I can do for you tonight. But now you’ll order all four rollers for $98, and if you want me to replace them, my labor will be $90.” He hung up, and we continued our family night. I never heard from him again.

Six-year-old Darlene asked, “Daddy, why didn’t he do what you said?”

“Good question, Sweetheart. Most the time when something squeals, squeaks, or whines, a little oil will reduce the friction, the noise will stop, and things will run more smoothly. That man figured he knew more than I did, and probably thought I was just trying to get some business for myself.”

“He messed up, didn’t he?”

“He sure did.”

That was over 50 years ago, and since then I’ve met many others who ignore truth and choose to do things to please themselves. The following are three well-documented examples.

Tobacco killed over 480,000 people in the US in 2018, and Vaping is now killing people, but people still suck on those things. Drugs – both legal and illegal – and alcohol kill people by the multi-thousands, but people either don’t care, or think they’re immune to the results. Immorality of all kinds has been ruining lives, families, and societies for millennia; but instead of facing the problems and correcting them, many people choose to live a raunchy life and hope they don’t get caught in the aftermath.

But when they reap what they sewed, they try to “oil the roller” to make the results of their immoral, senseless, and irresponsible decisions evaporate. They think hiding the symptoms will change the results. But that never solves the problems.

Proverbs 16:25 tells us man’s way of thinking often leads to death. Therefore, we need to face up to the truth found in the Bible and in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Romans 12:2 encourages us to change the way we think (change the roller), and Proverbs 3:5-6 encourages us to trust in the Lord with our whole life.

Do not attempt to erase the symptoms of sin and evil. Don’t oil the roller. Instead, turn to Jesus; He is on-call 24/7, and ready to help, and He’ll meet you right now.

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