Surviving Adversity

I had attempted to clear parts of the Greenbelt lot behind my house numerous times over the years, long before our current GreenFriends Greenbelt restoration project began. One day in March 2015, when Ramana and I were doing some clearing, we saw a glimpse of yellow among all of the invasive blackberry and ivy vines.

It seemed likely that the flowers were daffodils and I was determined to free them from their prison. I picked up my shears and headed towards them. Because of the uneven, sloped ground, and the invasive plants, I needed to create a path of twists and turns.

Once I arrived at my destination, I was gifted with some beautiful sights.

We  started the GreenFriends Greenbelt Restoration project in September of 2016. When I saw the daffodils coming up in March 2017, I put some bright blue ribbon around them to decrease the likelihood of them being trampled. (The pile to the right of the daffodils is cut bamboo stacked on a drying rack.)

It may be my imagination, but when I saw the daffodils this year (March 2018) it seemed to me that they were more beautiful than ever before and had a sense of lightness and freedom.

By the time the daffodils emerge in March 2019, their surroundings will be clear of debris. I believe I will always view these flowers with a sense of respect and honor. Like ferns, they have survived being covered with blackberry and ivy vines for thirty or more years and are a striking example of living through adversity and thriving.

The Will to Live


I used to have repetitive dreams of being in a house that had a lot of secret rooms. When I walked down one hallway, I would inevitably discover a new hallway that led to rooms I hadn’t seen before. The house went on and on and provided me with a never ending adventure.

That is what it has been like for me to work in the Greenbelt. I enter one area after another that is covered by blackberry vines, ivy and bamboo. I never know what I will find on the other side of them.

One day my adventure started here.



As I cleared a path, I saw many downed trees.


Soon, I came across this tree. It looked as if a maple tree that had fallen had birthed a new tree.





I discovered that another part of the tree had traveled north and it too had become a maple tree.




Other parts of the tree had traveled to the west and to the south. There was a new tree at the end of the western portion. I haven’t reached the end of the southern part yet so I don’t know what I will find there.

It is mind-boggling to me that a tree which has been so beaten down by the environment has such a strong will to live, and due to that will has accomplished what seems impossible. I look forward to the day when all of the invasive plants have been removed and the trees can reach for the sky without being hindered.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Against The Odds



Shared with Senior Salon

A Will to Live

In the summer of 2013, I bought a small lemon tree. There were several lemons on it when I purchased the tree and I had visions of all of the lemons that were to come. The nursery staff told me to bring the tree into the house before the temperatures dropped, so as winter neared I put it indoors. One by one, the beautiful lemons turned black and fell off. Then most of the leaves fell off. Soon there was nothing left but the trunk (if you can call something that small a trunk) and a few leaves.

Spring 2014 came and nothing happened. The same few leaves stayed on, but there were no new ones and there were no flower buds. I took the plant to a nursery to see if it was possible to save it. They instructed me to use a particular kind of fertilizer. Months later there was still no new growth.  It wasn’t until late August that a few flower buds formed. The plant was still alive but it seemed too late in the season for any fruit that formed to grow to maturity.


As it started to get cold, I once again brought the tree into the house. And again, the few small lemons that were on the tree turned black and fell off. This time the rest of the leaves fell off as well. I decided to leave the tree in the house even though it was just a stalk.

Sometime in late winter 2015, I concluded that the situation was hopeless and put the tree outside on the balcony. My plan was to compost it in the springtime. However, when springtime came and I picked up the container to take it to the compost heap, I noticed many tiny leaves were beginning to form! (Note: The big leaves at the top the photo below are from another tree.)


The lemon tree seemed determined to live. Over the next weeks, the leaves grew and a flower bud formed and then blossomed!


Once again, it produced no fruit.

Later in the year, as the weather got colder, I decided to leave the small tree outside rather than bring it into the house as had been my practice. The leaves stayed on throughout the winter of 2016. When spring  came there were no buds, but the tree was definitely alive.

In late May, I decided to try something else. I made a mount out of new top soil in the back yard and planted the tree in the middle of it. Around it I planted a circle of beets,  a circle of carrots and a circle of lettuce. I had the image of the vegetable plants worshiping the lemon tree.

None of the seeds even sprouted; I probably had planted them too late in the year, or maybe I didn’t water them enough. The tree developed no blossoms or flowers but over time there were more leaves.

Next spring, I will take more care in preparing the soil, and will then plant the vegetable seeds around the tree once again. I’m excited to see if my vision of the lemon tree being surrounded by an abundance of vegetable plants will become a reality.

This lemon tree seems to have a will to live. As long as that continues, I will be here to support it in any way I can!