Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Strawberries vs. Juniper Berries

Two of my sisters-in-law are in town for a few weeks from Taiwan. They're both very nice and generous, and have enjoyed traveling many places, particularly in Asia and Europe. During a conversation, they talked about The Strawberry Generation in Taiwan—referring to many young people who can't seem to do anything on their own. The strawberries live with their parents, can't find a decent job, and rely on others for everything. The comparison to strawberries comes from the fact that strawberries go bad after a very short time if not stored in optimal conditions.

Delicate Arch
While they were here, we visited Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point. Anyone who's traveled to Utah's Red Rock Country knows the climate there is hot, dry, high elevation desert. It's beautiful, but extremely inhospitable. We hiked to the iconic Delicate Arch. That trail isn't a particularly long hike, but can be arduous for those not accustomed to hiking, especially in that climate. Our Land Cruiser is well-suited to slick rock four-wheeling so we took it up the relatively mild Gemini Bridges trail and stopped at many of the overlooks and took way too many pictures that we'll probably never look at again. (We didn't take the Cruiser on the Metal Masher trail, because we needed to get back to Salt Lake City in one piece.)

Along with cactus and sagebrush, juniper is very common in Red Rock Country. Junipers (杜鬆屬) are a scrubby evergreen with stringy bark and small green berries. I love junipers—they remind me of many family vacations to Southern Utah in my youth. Junipers can survive the harshest of climes, high and low temperature extremes, deep snow, no water for months at a time, and very poor soil. They're the exact opposite of strawberries.

My daughter Amria and I later talked about our trip and realized that many people fall into these two categories—strawberries and junipers. Some people can't handle the least amount of discomfort or can't function when facing even small adversity. Others, like the mountain bikers we saw on the Gemini Bridges trail, seem to relish hardships. Call it "character building," "learning from experience," "training for the zombie apocalypse," or whatever you want, but perhaps having at least a little adversity in our lives helps prepare us for the big stuff. Like zombies.

Red Rock Country Junipers

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