Oak trees are famous for strength and indomitability. They have a very hard wood, and they live a long time. Their acorns feed many forms of wildlife and occasionally people. They are a widely recognized symbol of strength.
They are not always pretty. The very things that make them strong scar them. They have bad years. They weather droughts. They withstand storms that rip off their branches. Some years, after a particularly hard year, they don’t produce any acorns at all. They have to use their strength to rebuild themselves and they have nothing left over to give to the world around them.
Other things grow on them. Vines. Mistletoe. Birds and squirrels nest in them. Shade loving plants are protected by them. They have twisted branches. Crooked trunks. Giant, un-hideable scars that never fade, even after hundreds of years. They are full to their very leaves with stories, if only they could tell them.
The oldest, most twisted oaks have outlived many straight, unblemished specimens that were cut down for their timber. They don’t grow evenly. Some years they grow a lot. Some years, they face adversity, and they grow very little. They may even get smaller for a while, if bad storms rip off enough branches. But very, very slowly, over a very long time, they get bigger, little by little. That slow progress is so powerful that it can rip up roads and tear buildings to pieces.
Being imperfect or having a bad year doesn’t stop them from being amazing. Even in their worst, most unattractive, most adverse year, they are still the very air we breathe.