“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)
Last week I shared with you that I’d been on vacation to Edisto Beach in South Carolina. But we took some side trips too away from the ocean and waves. One of them was to see the only tea plantation in America. Of course, I brought home some of the American Tea. Since I’m a straight tea lover and don’t care for the flavors others love to add to their tea, I bought the black tea. It was fun seeing the tea growing and watching them harvest the tea leaves with a huge green machine invented by the owners for that purpose. On the tour of the plantation, the driver told us that tea plants live for centuries once they are established.
Another thing that has lived for centuries is the Angel Tree we stopped by to see on John’s Island, not far from the tea plantation. It is an amazing tree. The picture doesn’t do it justice. Some of the online information says the tree is 1,500 years old. Other places say the tree is only 500 years old. So take your pick of what you want to believe. But one thing for sure is that it is a very old tree and a very huge tree with a lot of people friends trying to keep it growing. Some of the branches were so large they rested on the ground and looked like fallen trees. Signs everywhere asked people not to climb on the tree, but you know that was a temptation to all the kids looking at the tree. My little tree climbing granddaughters did manage to keep their feet on the ground and respect the signs and understood the need to preserve the tree.
But that wasn’t the only amazing tree we saw. Huge live oaks were not uncommon. Not as old or as big at the Angel Tree, but nevertheless impressive and dripping with Spanish moss. Looking at old trees does seem to connect you with the endurance and age of nature. That special air Robert Louis Stevenson mentions in the quote above.
Then we toured Botany Bay. Here the ocean is on the move, coming in on the island, lapping up on the beach, swallowing up trees. We went on a driving tour around the preserve and took in the sites and then we walked a half mile to the beach. Carrying away shells from this beach is strictly prohibited and so you see all sorts of amazing shells. People still pick them up and then because they seem to need to do something with them, they use them to decorate the trees the ocean has turned into barren trunks, branches and roots. These trees have a different kind of beauty. They’ve been stripped of everything but still they endure. At least for a while longer until the ocean claims the rest of them. An other worldly beach. But people were fishing and swimming and sunning. We simply walked and admired and the girls added their shell decorations to a few barren roots for others to come and admire on another day.
“Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.” (Rabindranath Tagore)
Do you like exploring the wonders of nature? Tell me about the old trees you’ve seen.