Nurse Logs of the Pacific Northwest

Nurse Log


a fallen tree providing nutrients, water, and protection for the saplings that will make up the next generation of the forest

Scattered on the slopes of mountains whose knees rest in the sea lie the fallen giants of past centuries: the Nurse Logs. In life they tower to the sky, standing in ranks, home to birds and bugs, photosynthesizing almost every bit of sunlight that hits their massed, evergreen needles. In death they crash to the ground, supporting five times as much life as they did when they were upright. First the fungi, microbes, and insects move in, transforming the mighty trunks into soft, moisture-retaining humus. Moss and baby ferns sprout. Then, one little shoot at a time, the little seedlings appear. The grandmother trees become the nursery upon which the next generation of the forest will take root. Over the centuries the Nurse Logs continue to soften, settling, disintegrating, virtually dissolving into the ground from which they grew. But above them and around them the new trees take shape, roots encompassing, trunks reaching towards the sky. Centuries later there is no sign the great trees were ever there except for the bizarrely arching root formations of their descendants.

The great Sitka Spruce of the temperate rainforests in the Pacific Northwest region of the lands we know as the United States have served as inspiration to the founders of Life Circle Birth International. They are a metaphor for the kind of community we are working to build and hold. We are like the nurse logs of the forest. Our experience is like the humus supporting, protecting, and nurturing the families we work with. Is society all that different from a forest? Maybe when we walk among the trees we will find that we are standing in the company of our brothers and sisters.

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