How Long Do Living Things Live?

Mr. Nature here–say, how long are various kinds of plants and animals supposed to live?

My wife and I have lived at the same address since the Silurian Period. Next to our front steps, the same big red tulip blooms every year. Neither of us can remember a time when it didn’t, except for a spell when the squirrels would eat it as soon as it showed a bud. I think the squirrels who did that have all been eaten by the hawk. Anyhow, this ancient tulip bulb this year has produced a positively gorgeous flower.

A few feet away stands a dogwood tree that was here before we were. They say a dogwood lives only twenty years or so, but this one has that beat by a long, long way. It’s still putting out white flowers every spring.

I’m not one of those Jane Goodall types who gets to be on National Geographic, and can look at a handful of ants and tell you which one is which. Flowers and trees are easier because they don’t move around. So don’t ask me how old are any of the birds or animals around here.

Across the street, on top of St. Francis School, we now have a couple of nests of buzzards (turkey vultures, to you sticklers), going back no more than two years. It’ll be interesting to see how long they stay. I hope they’re not here just to wait for me. I will presume that the same individual buzzards use the nests from year to year. If it turns out they don’t, I guess I’ll have to go back to observing trees and tulips.

2 comments on “How Long Do Living Things Live?

  1. Just proves once again that nothing in this world necessarily follows the rules we think we have established. I have often observed these same phenomena. Carefully nurtured rose bushes can croak in one season, and neglected plants of various kinds hang on for decades beyond the prescribed time limits. Seems some of them just have a will to live, and others give up. Who knows!?

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