By Amanda Cleary Eastep
I was behind the wheel for the first time at the age of 9.
OK, so it was just a lawn tractor, and I didn’t see the tree coming.
I was looking over my shoulder at the cart I was pulling with my little brother and two older cousins riding in the back. I didn’t see the tall sapling until it began to emerge from behind the cart and then sprang miraculously to full height after I unwittingly ran over the full length of it.
With youth comes resilience. Of course, if that tree had been established, it would have rung my bell.
This week, I’m in Alabama, which is kind of like a different country for someone from Illinois. I’m visiting my best friend who moved here a few years ago with her family.
It’s only been one day, so I am still in “tourist” mode. So far I have been intrigued by two things, especially. The way our waiter at the lovely southern bistro (“home of the original crawfish gravy”) pronounced “Alabaaama muuuuuuuuuuud cake”…
…and the live oaks.
Live oaks (as opposed to dead ones, as my friend pointed out) can grow right along the sidewalk, looking like they might rise out of the ground at any moment and join your leisurely stroll along the boutique-lined streets of Fairhope.
The trunks are massive, the branches stretch into a canopy you could picnic/readJaneAusten/makelove under, and the roots…I’ve never seen an above ground root system like this.
It got me thinking about the tagline Michelle Van Loon and I came up with for our new online community The Perennial Gen.
“growing deeper roots in the dirt and light of midlife”
These words have less to do with age and how long our roots have had time to grow than with our belief that faith provides the rich soil that feeds them.
Like a good tourist, and fanatical picture taker of all things nature-y, I snapped some shots of the first live oak I passed, but wondered if it was a good illustration for our beloved tagline. So I Wikipedia-ed it.
The southern live oak has a deep tap-root that anchors it when young and eventually develops into an extensive and widespread root system. This, along with its low center of gravity and other factors, makes the southern live oak extremely resistant to strong sustained winds, such as those seen in hurricanes. 
With age comes resilience.
First from going deep, then broad.
From loving God, so you can love your friends for life.
From tapping into a great strength, then reaching out.
One thought on “Growing Deep–and Broad–Roots in the Dirt and Light”
Enjoyed this kind reminder of putting down roots. Like most beautiful things in nature they have a down side, which would make me think plant these carefully. The top roots, which seem to be more common in the South, can result in a bumpy ride on a lawn mower and buckle sidewalks and as in our case need to be taken down as it creeps towards the foundation of the house. Up side of the tree is trunks can be cut for fire wood, or borders in your garden which I used, I dug the inside out of one huge trunk and planted a vast growing vine in it which had to be trimmed often.. who knows if the new owner tore it out or it may be covering the house by now. So many things in life have options, depending on how you use them it can make an interesting life.
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