Do petty irritations get under your skin? This tiny insect turns a willow tree into a rose bush. Sort of.
The soldiers gave Jesus wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.Matthew 27:34
Roses on a Willow Tree?
“Most of the blueberries are gone,” my daughter warned me, “but Archangel Valley is gorgeous this time of year.”
“Let’s go,” I exclaimed. After an unusually wet summer, I couldn’t wait to see Hatcher Pass in September. I grabbed my camera bag, and my daughter loaded sandwich bags for any berries we might find.
As we drove higher and higher, I took in the gorgeous scenery. Yellows and reds splashed like jewels amongst the tapestry of the deep green of the tundra. The mountains shone with new-fallen snow, and patches of blue peaked between the glowering clouds.
I sighed in contentment. The tiny irritations which come with a new school year seemed insignificant in the majesty of the mountain pass in Alaska. Back home in Arizona seemed a world away. Away from mourning the loss of a student. We had found a respite far from the changes, sadness, and grief.
When we arrived at a likely berry patch, we got out of the truck and climbed the hill, taking care to look around for bears. We bent over and plucked tiny berries from miniature blueberry bushes. It took forever to fill a sandwich bag with berries, but I didn’t mind. We clambered over moss and lichen-covered rocks, spending equal amounts of time berry picking and photographing everything.
After an hour or so, the temperatures dropped, and we decided to head back to Wasilla. While loading everything in the truck, I noticed something strange on the willow trees.
“I didn’t know willows had flowers,” I mentioned to my son-in-law, a science teacher.
“I’ve never seen one with flowers,” he said. “That’s pretty weird.”
The willows near our parking place looked like a strange cross between a tree and a rosebush. I snapped multiple photos before we headed back to town.
A Tiny Insect Creates a Rose
When we returned home, I used my Seek app to identify what I’d seen. It seemed impossible, but a tiny insect, Rabdophaga rosaria, or a gall midge, creates the rose-like growth on the willows.
No more than 1-3 mm long, this tiny insect lays eggs on the willow’s shoots. The eggs produce a chemical that prevents the willow leaves from growing lengthwise. This causes the leaves to develop in a roseate at the end of the branch.
A tiny insect turns a willow tree into a ‘rose’ bush. It makes me wonder how often I let God use the things that bug me to turn me into something beautiful.
Father God, please help me to recognize how you want me to experience growth from the things that bug me. You have a plan. Help me to embrace it.