|Near Newfound Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee © Doug Hickok|
Change is constant and inevitable. But change is often difficult to accept when it's unwanted. The once beautiful Carolina Hemlock forests that graced the mountains of the Southern Appalachians are disappearing. The beautiful lacy branched conifers are dying from the hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive sap-sucking insect. As you can see on closer inspection, some of the trees are only skeletons now.
Yet, as the hemlocks perish, nature adapts and evolves. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, a different ecosystem of flora and fauna will take the place of the hemlock forest and thrive. Change will continue, and a new forest will emerge, one with a beauty of its own.
In this way, nature's example gives the human race hope. As our planet and our lives constantly change, we'll both adapt, and thrive in a new and, I hope, beautiful way. Unless of course we're unable or unwilling to change. Then it's a different story. Then, we'll become the next hemlock tree.