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Posted January 8, 2012


You've experienced one of the most traumatic events of your life. Family death. Divorce. Natural disaster-what insurance companies are fond of calling Acts of God. And you're either too busy or frozen to write about devastation or you feel like you're running through the fire to escape. Write a novel? HA!

How does one move beyond trauma induced writers block? Try jotting down facts. Dates. Journal events in abbreviated form. Later, the notes can be expanded into memoir. And like me, you can always learn from the lodgepole pine. Here's my story:

I remember what it was like having two children close together in age. I didn't need a death or an Act of God to sometimes drown in doldrums. The repercussions of a spoon intentionally dropped behind my back in the garbage disposal by a precocious toddler while I was trying to load an injured seventy pound Chow dog in the back of a truck would sometimes bring torrential tornadoes on.

If I made it home from the vet with a baby screaming from her car seat because earache medicine hadn't yet kicked in, I still wasn't out of the woods because the toddler now needed to be taken to the doctor to have her hand checked because she'd slammed her hand in the vehicle door. Plus, I still had to call the plumber to install a new garbage disposal from the spoon debacle. All combined, I could be swept into the doldrums in a heartbeat if I allowed meltdowns.

Sometimes I brought hurricane winds upon myself. I wanted to be the best mother possible so I chose to use cloth diapers for soft fabric against tender skin. However, cloth diapers couldn't be tossed.

Soaking diapers?


I can remember being overwhelmed with life's chores and I stood in the bathroom looking out the window. Snow! I thought, "If I raised the window, I could chuck those diapers out. They'd blend in. No one would know." Then I heard a little voice. "Brilliant, Vicki. Then you'd have a mess mountain of smell to pick up when the snow melts because dirty diapers will stand out like a sore thumb."

Instead of chucking diapers, I jotted down details. I deduced I could always write stories twenty years later when semi lucid. Unless dementia crept in early.

Then, I discovered the secrets of the lodgepole pine and decided I wanted to be a lodgepole pine kind of writer. If you're not into science or a forester, stick with me here!

Listen to Lotan and Critchfield's explanation: "Lodgepole pine is a prolific seed producer. Good crops can be expected at 1- to 3-year intervals, with light crops intervening. The cones withstand below freezing temperatures and are not generally affected by cone-and-seed-feeding insects. Only squirrels and coreid bugs are significant seed predators.

"Cone production of individual dominant and codominant trees can vary from a few hundred to a few thousand per tree Cones are persistent, and serotinous (closed) cones accumulate for decades. Annual production may run from 173,000 to 790,000 seeds per hectare (70,000 to 320,000/acre) with half to one-third available for annual seedfall.

"These figures might be considered typical for interior lodgepole pine where some portion of the trees are of the serotinous type. In Oregon, where the nonserotinous cone habit is prevalent, seedfall ranged from about 35,000 to over 1.2 million/ha (14,000 to 500,000/acre). Most years seedfall was on the order of hundreds of thousands per hectare. Where stored seeds are in the millions per hectare (in closed cones), the number of seeds stored is probably 10 times that of seeds produced annually."

"Serotinous cones do not open at maturity because of a resinous bond between the cone scales. The bonds break with temperatures between 45 and 60 C (113 to 140 F) (48), and cone scales are then free to open hygroscopically. Large quantities of seeds are thus available for regenerating a stand following fire. Closed cones at or near the soil surface (less than 30 cm or about 12 in) are also subjected to temperatures from insolation sufficient to open them and may provide seed in harvested areas. Some seeds may be damaged by fire, particularly in fires burning in logging slash."


  • To be a prolific writer - I must be like a lodgepole pine
  • Produce seed (novels) within 2-3 years
  • Feel free to open hygroscopically though expect a little heat (constructive criticism)
  • Steer clear of squirrels and coreid bugs (bad critics)
  • When cloth diapers cause fiery diaper rash, Desitin and Pampers fix the problem leaving more time to write. (bonds are broken when Plan B is improvised)
  • Steer clear of logging slash (naysayers) - chips and debris from logging add too much fuel and damages the seed

    For more information on the lodgepole pine, check out this link:

    Comments anyone?

    If you would like to comment or have questions about this article, email me vmoss@livingwaterfiction.com

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