Juniper trees are resilient plants. The ones that are scattered on the rocky bluff below our home are thought to be hundreds upon hundreds of years old.
At the top of the most scenic view on the bluff, stands a massacred juniper tree with only a tuft left atop its sturdy trunk. This juniper was once the most magnificent belle of the mountain, full and healthy and massive in its branches, needles and berries.
Many years ago, prior to building our home adjacent to this juniper tree, the area was a well known party hangout for rebellious teenagers that littered the area with beer bottles, condoms and scrap wood for their bonfires. At times, these disrespectful youngsters would start tearing off the branches of this 400 year old juniper tree when they would run out of wood for their bonfires. They tore, and they ripped, and they sawed, and they half-sawed the branches, until one day, after many more party bonfires, there was only a tuft left on top of the tree.
The tree was starting to die because of its exposed trunk from the damage it had sustained, until a friend, who knew trees very well, ministered to it with all kinds of paraphernalia, including black tar.
The tree started to revive again, and now continues to flourish. The bonfire parties have long since vanished since our home now acts as a deterrent. I suppose it's challenging to act destructively, scream obscenities and drink underage in full view of responsible adults.
The tree is nowhere near as beautiful now as it was back then. It no longer offers massive shade to this sunniest part of the valley. But it is alive, it has endured much, and it still has its own measure of prettiness; even if only a tuft.
The juniper tree in some cultures is a symbolic representation of protection. It is the avatar I have chosen for this blog, for my Facebook page and for my Twitter account.
All of us protect something or someone in our lives, be it our beliefs, our self-image, our feelings, our property, our family, our friends or even strangers. Awhile ago, teenagers wanted to protect what they thought was their right to destroy a 400 year old tree. Others, including myself, had different ideas regarding the protection of that tree.
One size does not fit all.