We all know the old saying that sometimes one can't see the forest for the trees. But sometimes in these snowy Muskoka winters, I think the opposite happens - we can't see the trees for the forest!
Here's what I mean: even a person who doesn't know much about trees can see distinctions in the fall, when some trees have leaves that go red or yellow while others go orange or brown. But then comes the leafless winter where trunks and branches and twigs all blend into a dark brown, snow-covered mass. At this time of year, even nature enthusiasts can be tempted to stop looking at the individual trees and just see the forest.
However, if you look for a few moments longer, there are a few trees that easily distinguish themselves from among the crowd. Noticing them as you walk around Beacon's main camp or along a trail can add richness to a landscape that might seem monotonous at first glance. Here are some notables:
- White Birch: This will come as no surprise; the white birch is the token tree of the Muskoka area! Its distinctive peels and horizontal black markings against the white bark background make it the most recognized tree in our area.
- Yellow Birch: At camp, you are most likely to see one of these uncommon beauties if walking the trails around the Sugar Shack. Much like the White Birch, Yellow Birch trees have bark that peels, but much more extensively and delicately. It's a bit like the Shirley Temple of trees!
- Eastern White Pine: Although there are a variety of coniferous trees around camp, none is as easily identified as the White Pine. Its long, drooping needles hang in tufts from its branches, giving a gentle look to these trees which often grow into giants.
- American Beech: This deciduous tree does not like to follow stereotypes; unlike many of its tree companions, it holds on to a number of its leaves! The leaves that remain are toothed (aka they have a "wavy" edge), have distinctive leaf veins that run parallel to each other, and are pale brown. The Beech tree also has a uniquely smooth bark that makes it stand out.
- White Oak: Similar to the Beech tree, many White Oaks, especially young ones, hang on fiercely to quite a number of their leaves. Their leaves, which have a number of curved lobes, appear to be under protest though; they are often curled into themselves as if to protect from the winter temperatures. White Oaks often have a shaggy bark.
As a Christian, taking the time to notice these distinctive trees reminds me that God takes the time to do the same for me. There are so many people in the world; sometimes we can feel like we are lost and indistinct in the sea of faces. But we serve a God who even calls individual stars by name; how much more so people, His image-bearers, who He gave His Son for? I am so thankful that He desires to know me that much.