Dwarfed Trees as a Metaphor for Life

Dwarfed trees as metaphor for lifeIf you vis­it the Olympic Nation­al Park from the north­east entrance out of Port Ange­les, the road can quick­ly take you up to 5200 feet. The abil­i­ty to trav­el on wheels to sub­alpine mead­ows is a gift to those who pre­fer day hik­ing over the rig­ors of overnight pack­ing in.

Going in the late spring and sum­mer offers the chance to glimpse the alpine tun­dra, sans snow.  Sev­er­al short hikes from the visitor’s cen­ter allow you to roam what feels like the top of the world, with sweep­ing views of the Olympic Moun­tains around you. At the top of the moun­tain, near the tree line, you can see what flo­ra sur­vives in such extreme conditions. 

Bright col­ored wild­flow­ers, like the del­i­cate glac­i­er lily, tril­li­um and Indi­an paint­brush dot the hill­side. And every once in a while, near and above the tree line, you’ll find scrub­by mis­shapen lit­tle trees that man­age to hold on.  With the cold cli­mate, short grow­ing sea­son, and rocky soil – it’s a won­der the lit­tle guys ever grew into trees at all.

These dwarfed conifers grow in the direc­tion of the pre­vail­ing winds, nev­er more than a few feet tall, end­ing up mor­phed into odd shapes. You get the feel­ing that they’re hang­ing on with every­thing they’ve got; sur­viv­ing against the odds.

When you see their giant cousins across the park in the rain for­est, get­ting drunk on rain, nutri­ents and warmer weath­er, you appre­ci­ate all the more how these lit­tle scrubs have man­aged to adapt to the hand they’re dealt. They’re not near­ly as tall or big, but they are stur­dy as all get out.