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A Stormy Sprinkle

Countless lines have been written about Hurricane Sandy, the storm that recently battered the eastern coastal states of the U.S. How to prepare, how to repair and how to react has been the subject of articles in newspapers and magazines spanning the nation. There are lessons to be learned by governments, individuals and emergency crews about how to understand what insurance companies called “an act of God”.
Here is another.
Living on the scenic Jersey coast, we were not unaffected by the damage wrought by the storm. In addition to homes, cars, businesses and sources of recreation being destroyed, hundreds of trees fell in the tornado force winds. A study was recently conducted to determine – what caused some to fall while others, of the same type and age, remained?
Certainly those in exposed areas on top of hills or isolated areas were more likely to succumb to the high winds. But there was one glaring difference of the ones that fell in residential areas. Those that fell were primarily near homes that had lawn sprinkler systems as opposed to those without sprinklers.
That seems to be counter-intuitive.
You would think that a tree that received life giving water twelve months a year would outlast ones subject to seasonal rain and snow.
But that’s not what happened. Here’s why.
Life strives to be self-sustaining. Animals forage for food instinctively. Plants and vegetation naturally stretch out their roots in search of water and nutrients. When it is supplied daily, like by those homes that have sprinklered lawns, the roots remain short. When it is scarce, the roots stretch out far and wide searching for water and in the process, build a strong, stable foundation.
We see the same behavior on a human level. When people are handed sustenance on a silver platter, they become uninspired to reach out and better themselves. When encouraged, or even forced, due to circumstances, to fend for themselves, their natural instincts to survive come to the fore. They grow stronger and more stable.
Sprinkled support when needed is a benefit. Long term support might be a short-sighted approach and the root problem of a coming storm.

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Comments icon May 2, 2013


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