Get A Grip

Fig Roots finding a way home around rocks

Roots of the Fig tree finding a way to get a grip despite the obstacles.

When you think about it, you’d surely agree roots are amazing things. Yesterday, during my morning exercise, I contemplated roots while I walked. I allowed my thoughts to follow the path of least resistance, seeking the means to flourish – just like the roots I was thinking about.


Pandanus Tree with structured root system

When I looked around I saw so many different kinds of roots, so many ways of achieving the same end of stability and sustenance. There were big trees like the Moreton Bay Fig, thrusting sinuous roots down into the earth, weaving around obstacles to get a firm grip in order to survive and thrive. In other parts of the country, these stately trees have great buttress roots one could barely climb over. How different they are to the smaller but equally impressive Pandanus trees whose structural ‘prop’ roots remind me of the game ‘Pick-Up-Sticks’ we played as children.

Other plants like bamboo, gingers, heliconias and cannas, take a more flexible approach to life. If the first place they send roots down doesn’t suit, then they move on to more fertile fields.  I purchased a Tropicanna Canna Lily I’d coveted for some time and planted it in what I felt was a suitable position in my garden. Life must have looked greener on the other side of the fence because it migrated underneath soon after and thrived in a neighbour’s garden much to her delight and my chagrin.

Metaphorically roots ground us as social beings.

They give us identity and security. Being a part of a community is essential for well-being – we are social creatures after all. While we may ‘branch out’ and migrate as individuals, or even en masse, an origin story or history is a valued essential. Historically, diasporas occur when a society or a large part of it, seeks a better environment in which to flourish; one where they are free to express their cultural and individual identities, live without fear and thrive. ‘Putting down roots’ is a commitment to community.

Having a family ‘tree’ with roots to show from where we have sprung, and a wide spread of branches to indicate how we have grown and where we are heading – a family tree of which we are singularly but a leaf – helps to construct our identity giving relevance to our lives. The ‘family tree’ gives us a metaphor with which to comprehend our history; a framework of branches from which to hang our genesis stories. We draw strength from being a part of a larger whole.

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

How important is having roots in a community (be it real or virtual) to you?

Moreton Bay Fig

Young Moreton Bay Fig roots


Rooted in the past – Tweed Heads Cemetery, Australia – a place to wander and dream of origin stories.



Pandanus Roots

The structural roots of the Pandanus

26 responses to “Get A Grip

    • Thank you Gib. That fundamental connection to earth is reassuring for me. In all it’s expressions. When I was a little girl, every hollow between tree roots was a secret doorway. Too much Alice methinks!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You asked: “How important is having roots in a community (be it real or virtual) to you?”

    I have put down roots in a number of communities around the world, as I have made my way through life. From growing up in Toowoomba, through to a couple of communities in the USA during a decade of life there, through to a couple of places back here since I returned in 2006. I really think of myself as a bit of a nomad. Not having a strong family tree (for various reasons) has made it perhaps easier to leave the safety people often feel within their family environment, to the unknown — I thrive on all things diverse, so putting down roots has always been easy for me.

    Having been born in Toowoomba, some might think there would be a strong connection — yet, really, the only connection of interest to me is my dear Mum in aged care there. I have a connection to Caloundra from years spent there in my childhood as well as a teenager who surfed in the area. I have a strong root system in Morgantown, West Virginia — I consider it to be my second home. Add to that Bribie Island and New Farm in Brisbane, and you get an idea of the diversity I love.

    I could go on, but this might take too long to read. 🙂

    So to answer your question — having roots in a community is something that became a natural part of my life, and continues to do so with friendships I make through blogs etc. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gosh Kim, you have moved around. Thanks for the comprehensive reply. I like the way you infer its made you stronger, keener to embrace the diversity of experience. I don’t think its the place so much for me that’s important for grounding as the memories the place holds and of course the people.
      You have roots in both physical and virtual communities. Don’t you love having those wonderful options that technology brings? So much has changed in just a generation or two.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.