Showing posts with label trees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trees. Show all posts

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Senator - R.I.P.

My apologies for not posting to this blog for has been very busy as of late between my real job as a software engineer and family obligations.

My first post for this year is a sad one.

As I related in a previous post, the Orlando area was once home to the oldest and largest cypress tree in the U.S. and the fifth oldest tree in the world, at 3500 years old. Its residence was in Big Tree Park, a park dedicated in 1929 by President Calvin Coolidge. I felt sure that having lived so long, that my grandchildren and their grandchildren would, in turn, be able to enjoy this one-of-a-kind tree that had been around since the time of the Egyptian pyramids. Alas, this will not be so.

You see, a very selfish woman named Sara Barnes (click here to see the news article) decided to trespass on park property at night in order to feed her methamphetamine addiction, which was apparently something she did often. Near the big tree, she lit a fire so she could better see the drugs she was taking. On this very dry winter night, the fire quickly spread out of control and quickly burned through the center of the somewhat hollow tree. Firefighters bravely strung nearly a mile of hose to reach the tree and try to put out the fire, but it was too late. Within a matter of hours, the massive tree came crashing to the ground. 3500 years of history erased by a woman with a drug habit.

My family had only recently moved to the Orlando area, but we had visited this tree and park quite often. Thankfully, there is still a large tree on the property, Lady Liberty, estimated to be a mere 2000 years old, and there are a few other large trees in the nearby Black Hammock Preserve and Soldier Creek hiking trails...but the Senator was the oldest of them all, and now he is gone. Let's hope that Seminole County does a better job of guarding the remaining tree at the park so we don't get a repeat performance by another arsonist.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Visiting with the Ents

Many may not realize this, but central Florida is host to a very special tree. Named "The Senator", it is believed to be the oldest and largest baldcypress tree in the United States. Estimated to be 3500 years old, it started growing around the same time that the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt occurred. It would have already been an impressive tree around the time of Christ's birth, having been around for 1500 years then. Here are some other statistics for this tree:
  • Age: 3500 years – one of the oldest trees in the U.S.A.
  • Diameter: 17.5 feet.
  • Circumference: 47 feet
  • Height: 118 feet
  • Board feet of wood: Approximately 50,000
Here is a photo of several of my children, several of my nieces and a family friend all near the tree. Note that the perspective effects of the wide angle setting on my camera makes the tree seem smaller than it is by comparison, as they are some 30 feet or so from the tree where they are standing. If they were all standing near the base, the tree would be roughly as wide as the whole group.

This tree can be found in Big Tree Park in Lake Mary, Florida, along with its 2,000-year-old companion, Lady Liberty. The Cross Seminole Trail runs by this park as well, across US 17-92 and on into the Spring Hammock Preserve. The nearby Soldier Creek Trail boast several other large cypresses as well. To make a lame attempt to relate this back to orchids, we've seen three species along these trails, Epidendrum magnoliae, Spiranthes odorata, and Habenaria odontopetala.

Both the big trees at Big Tree Park evoke a sense of awe and wonder...each rising like a giant column out of the earth. Unlike younger cypresses which tend to be thin at the top and much wider at the bottom, these trees are roughly straight-sided all the way to their crowns high above. It is rather sad when you think that entire forests of giants like these used to roam our state before falling to the woodsman's axe.

In the presence of these ancient and mighty trees, it is easy to feel just how fleeting and ephemeral our lives really are.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Among Giants: A Poem

This past weekend, I took a hike down Flagler Trail near the town of Geneva, FL. At the end of the trail close to the river, I came upon some majestic old Live Oak and Baldcypress trees, festooned with mosses. As far as orchids go, I did find a few Dendrophylax (Harrisella) porrectus plants growing in one tree in the area, although I'm sure if they're in one tree, they're in others as well. As I explored the area, getting lost among the trees, I could hear every-now-and-again the cry of Bald Eagles flying overhead.
I ventured close to the edge of the river and saw a historical marker, which said the following:

King Philip (Emaltha) and his son, Wildcat (Coacoochee), together with about 200 Seminoles, had a settlement here, which they felt threatened by the army camp at Lake Monroe in 1836-37. The resulting conflict at the camp on Feb 8, 1837, changed the name of Camp Monroe to Fort Mellon (Sanford). Later names for this Indian settlement were Cook's Ferry, Bridge End, Osceola, and now Osceola Fish Camp. The nearby shell mound was examined by anthropologists Daniel Britton in the 1850's, Jeffries Wyman in the 1860's, and Clarence B. Moore in the 1890's.

A similar plaque at the trailhead also noted the fact that after the attack on Fort Mellon, the Seminoles were driven from the area.

The events and sights of this day inspired the following poem:

Among Giants
by Prem Subrahmanyam

I walked
among the giants today.

Their hoary heads shaking, filled with memories of the ages.
Their long beards trailing through the air.

Their buttressed knees reaching down into the sands of times gone past.

I heard an eagle's cry,

cold and piercing

I heard the branches sigh

in a wind passing down from ages past to years yet uncounted.

I stood
upon the brink and saw the ruin of a nation

only the hills remember their names, etched in blades of snowy white

I wandered
to a time when another stood here as I do now.

He heard the eagle's cry,

wild and free.

He heard the branches sigh

in a wind passing down from ages past to years yet uncounted.

I wandered further

to a time when no one yet had marked this place

wild creatures strange and powerful

laid down in the dust to rise no more

only the hills remember their names, their bones encased in tombs of stone.

They heard the eagle's cry,

strong and new.

They heard the branches sigh

in a wind passing down from ages past to years yet uncounted.

I wandered even further

to a time when I am no more

a shadow that briefly darkened the hills and is remembered no longer.

On that day another stood here as I do now

Did he wander to my time and further back,

regarding those who stood here as he does now?

Did he hear the eagle's cry,

fierce and undaunted?

Did he hear the branches sigh

in a wind passing down from ages past to years yet uncounted?

Their buttressed knees reaching down into the sands of times gone past.

Their long beards trailing through the air.

Their hoary heads shaking, filled with memories of the ages.

Among the giants today

I walked.

© 2008, Prem Subrahmanyam, All rights reserved

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...