Pines switching to winter clothes or going naked on Tierra del Fuego

Pine needles are falling like mad right now.  They know winter is coming and they are switching out their summer needles for their winter needles.  Kinda like you are wearing sweat pants and a hoodie instead of shorts and a t-shirt.  Except its not the temp that does it for pine trees, its the daylength.  Days are so dang short now.  I like cooler weather, but not these short days.  Not as many hours to work outdoors.  So we have to do stuff indoors.  Like making salsa and working on resilience research proposals when we really want to rake up pine straw for mulch.

pine straw mushroomIndoor biologists who never really observed Nature decided pines were not deciduous because they had needles in the winter.  Weren’t they over-educated fools?  That’s why I don’t let on I have a Ph.D. the first time I meet a farmer.

Anyone who has had pine trees knows that in the fall they get rid of their old needles, just like oaks and other deciduous trees do.  The only difference is that pines grow new ones ilmmediately and oaks go naked all winter.

Seems more sensible to wear clothes in the winter, but oaks have never learned how.  Kinda like the primitive tribes on Tierra del Fuego. The reason it;s called Land of Fire is because of the lack of technology of the native Americans who lived there when the Spanish explorers passed by.  They didn’t know how to make clothes, but they did know how to make fires.  So they kept a lot of fires going all winter. Or maybe they just preferred to go naked.  Nobody really asked them and they are all gone now, so we’ll never know.

But we can be pretty sure that they didn’t wear clothes because they didn’t ever develop the systems required to make clothes.  Some think they were the paleoindians who had been pushed South by the invading second wave of more advanced humans coming from Asia.  Humans who don’t innovate get run over.  They don’t have enough resilience to survive.  You might say, well they are plenty tough, they must be resilient.  But toughness is not the same as resilience.

We can also be pretty sure oaks would have evolved winter leaves if they could have.  What is it that makes oaks only have summer leaves?  The obvious answer is path dependency.  Something in the oak genetics makes them unable to innovate that much regarding their leaves.

Much like the Norwegians who settled Greenland and Vinland.  They were too stuck in their cultural traditions.  So as the climate cooled, they kept trying to raise sheep and grow barley instead of switching to a seafood diet.  The oxygen rich cold waters off the coast of Greenland are teaming with fish.  And with lots of fish comes lots of seals, walruses and other species which could have been food for the Norwegians.  So if they’d learned from the Inuits, they would have survived.  They also hastened their demise by continuing to send tribute back to Norway to the Catholic church.  They had to pay through the nose to get priests to come out and perform services.  What priest wants to go to such a forlorn place?  None would stay, so they had to pay to send him back and get another.  And they had to outfit churches like the relatively rich Norwegians did back home.  Switching to a less expensive religion was not an option.  So they died.

I wonder what would have happened to if the Norwegians were vegan.  Wow, they would have been wiped out really quick as the Little Ice Age took over.  No more turnips and potatoes, even, in Greenland.

I tried to get the Peace Corps vegans in Moldova to drink milk, eat eggs and try meat in the winter.  They were too wedded to their ill-fitting beliefs.  The turnips and potatoes didn’t quite provide the fatty acids their hair, brain and nerves need.  So, these Peace Corp girls lost their hair and had neurological problems.  That’s what happens when diet becomes an inflexible religion.

If you like being bald and messing up your brain, be vegan in a poor Moldovan village in the winter. Resilience.  It’s everywhere.

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