The Hidden Beauty of Adaptations

As I’ve mentioned before, I live in the high desert. We average about 7 inches of rain a year.  But most people don’t realize that this wasn’t always the case. Nevada’s Great Basin area was once a giant lake, Lake Lahontan. Lake Lahontan still exists today, but it a mere fraction of its original state. At one time Nevada’s average rain fall was 40 inches a year, and the area was lush with plant life.

But as the Sierra Nevada mountain range grew higher, our rainfall decreased.  Most of our storms carry strong winds over the mountains.  The storms basically blow past us before the rain reaches the ground.

With the drop in rainfall, the lush plant life began to wither. It was either adapt to the changes or become extinct.  Many plants did die, but many others created amazingly unique ways to survive in our harsh climate.  A lot of our native plants have a silvery, dull color, others have a powdery residue on their leaves. These changes helped reduce water loss through evaporation and reduced the amount of water they needed to survive.  Others learned to make seeds with feather-like extensions and cork-screw tails which allow the wind to carry then to moister places where they can literally screw themselves into the soil. These adaptations mean the plants lose less water,  hang on to the few precious drops they do get, and search out better place to live. As well, most of our native plants are pollinated by the wind, since pollinators can be few and far between.

So why am I droning on about Nevada’s desert flora, and where the heck did I learn all of this, anyway? Actually,  that was part of one of the school tour narratives I do at the Arboretum. I haven’t given any tours since we shut down for COVID, and I was getting rusty.

But seriously, back to the adaptation topic.

This past year, we all been forced to adapt rapidly to massive changes in our lives. Between wearing masks, social distancing, loved ones getting sick, or worse, dying, and us not being able to hold them, we have had to handle the unimaginable.  Add teaching our kids at home, working from home, or going to work terrified we’ll get sick, but going anyway, because our jobs are essential to the rest of our community, and it’s a wonder we are still going forward. Then, we have weather challenges, the fires, and now the riot at the Capitol. We’ve had to do things that seemed unimaginable just a few short months ago.

The big thing is, we are still standing. 

We are still here.

We are battered. 

Somehow, though, we’ve learned to make the best of it all and adapt.  Somehow, we’ve managed to keep our sense of humor, find new ways to connect with our families, and friends. We have found ways to smile, support others, and live.

It took baby steps. At first it felt like an adventure, being able to stay at home for a few weeks. We thought about all the things we could get done around the house, or just sit back and binge watch shows, or read.  It was nice to relax, and we were confident that this would be a short term event, and we would get back to normal soon enough.

But, then people got sicker, there wasn’t any clear guidance on what to do, how to pay the rent or feed our families,  how to stay healthy, how to cope with not seeing loved ones.  We are social beings, so I think that was the hardest part to deal with, not being able to connect in person with those we loved.

But as the frustration grew, amazing things began to happen. We got creative. We learned Zoom; we held virtual learning classes; we worked from home; we walked in the fresh air around our communities,  We talked to neighbors over the fence; we took up new hobbies; and learned to do masked, marathon sprints through the grocery store. We even set up assembly lines in our homes to make masks for others, even though we disliked those masks so much.

They had become our life line.

Sure we panicked at times. We bought too much toilet paper, paper towels, and other odd things, because we had to do … something.  We complained about wearing a mask everywhere.  We yelled, we screamed, we cried. Those things helped a little, but the pain was still there.

We hurt.

We were lonely.

But we also found new ways to cope. We went outside ourselves.  We helped our neighbors. We learned to barter. We donated computers and supplies to schools. We adopted more dogs and cats. We donated our time because we did have that. Some of us marched to thank our healthcare workers. Some of us marched to stand up for our fellow man. We did drive by graduations and watch concerts in the park on TV.

Then we got hit with more friends and family getting sick, bad weather, and fires. We thought “Oh God, what’s next? We can’t go on.”

 But we are still here.

 We kept going.

 Because that was the only thing we could do.

And now, as we can slowly see the light at the end of the tunnel, we can begin to see the amazing strength and resilience we have; that we have always had. It was hidden for a while.  It was a little rusty and a little dusty.  But it was there; our innate ability to adapt.

We are calmer now. We are a little bit wiser and little more confident.

So take that feeling, my friends and hang on to it. Know that you have more power in your heart and soul than you ever thought possible.

Know that you can tackle anything you set your mind to and find the joy and hidden beauty in the struggle.

Till next time,


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