Amazing Alders

Genesis 1:12

“And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

As a boy, I liked to watch the coal being unloaded from the railway wagons at the power station sidings. These were situated with the Tame River on one side and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal on the other. Huge signal gantries towered above the railway tracks.

I had occasion to revisit the area about 20 years after the power station had closed. Walking through a mysterious wood, between the waterways that I did not remember, I wondered where the coal sidings had gone. No railway tracks remained, and I didn’t remember these trees. But then I had my Narnia moment! In the middle of the wood, I came across a tall metal pole. Looking up, I could see the railway signal gantry at the top. The wood had grown rapidly around where the railway sidings used to be.

The wood consisted of alder trees, and these grow very quickly. They can grow in areas of devastation, such as former industrial sites, where there is little or no nitrogen in the soil. They grow in abundance on areas covered by the devastating landslide from the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Like the power station land, this area has no nitrogen in the soil. But alder trees fix their own nitrogen through a symbiotic relationship with frankia bacteria, living in the roots of the tree. Neither tree nor bacteria could have evolved before the other, so their existence is consistent only with what the Bible says about God creating these amazing trees.