Archive for January, 2012

THE SENATOR BURNS

Monday, January 16th, 2012

THE 3500 YEAR OLD  118 FOOT TALL  BALD CYPRESS ‘THE SENATOR’ IS REDUCED TO A 20 FOOT STUMP IN A MATTER OF HOURS.

 

The Senator, near Sanford Florida

The Senator, near Sanford Florida

 

We are saddened to hear of the loss of this magnificent tree.  First we heard it could have been arson, but then investigators found the fire started  high up in the 118 foot tree.  Possibly lightning that struck the tree and smoldered, and then burst into flames.  The drought conditions in central Florida make this a plausible enough scenario.  We will have to wait for a full investigation to be completed before we know all of the facts.

This Bald Cypress was the biggest and the oldest native tree in Florida and of its kind. For many Central Floridians, this tree has remained a constant; the most consistent natural feature of a dramatically changed landscape. Since Senator Moses Overstreet dedicated the land around the tree as a park in 1927, the area has become developed and urbanized.

We visited “The Senator” in Big Tree Park, north of Orlando  in 2008, and seeing this place has been instrumental in our ability to visualize and begin to comprehend what the old Florida must have looked like. Seeing this 3500 year old Pond cypress really put it in perspective for us.  To stand before a living being that was alive in 1500 B.C. is really astounding.  The grand stature of the tree, its width and height, added to the experience.  If something is going to be 3,500 years old, we would expect it to be big and memorable.

Upon hearing of the news, we are unsettled to know that we saw this tree in the very last days of its life and were unaware of any impending doom.  It is also sad to know that others after us will not get the same experience, now that the tree is gone.  The good news is that there is a much younger ‘sister’ tree in Big Tree Park, , the 2000 year young Lady Liberty.

In the bigger picture, what happened this morning will be examined and analyzed.  How natural of a cause was this? If it was totally natural, so be it, we just witnessed nature at work. If not, and it could be some time before we have an idea about this, this could be disturbing news.  What if it is not natural?  Why now after such a long life?  Do we have evidence of 3500 year old trees that died 100 years ago? 200 years ago? 50 years ago? How long before Lady Liberty suddenly burns down in two hours?

The Senator, near Sanford, Florida

The Senator, near Sanford, Florida

 

 

 

IN THE DEAD OF WINTER, A FLOWER BLOOMS IN MORRIS PARK

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

A BITTER SATURDAY IN THE MIDDLE OF JANUARY, WE HEAD FOR THE FLOODPLAIN OF INDIAN CREEK IN SEARCH OF A BLOOMING FLOWER.  WE FIND A GREEN PLANT WITH A BLOOM:  THE SKUNK CABBAGE IS HERE!

Skunk cabbage in Morris Park, Philadelphia

Skunk cabbage in Morris Park, Philadelphia

Symplocarpus foetidus

If the middle of winter has you yearning for green blooming things, you are one wooded floodplain or swamp area away from discovering the blooming flower you need at this time of the year.

Skunk cabbage in Morris Park, Philadelphia

Skunk cabbage in Morris Park, Philadelphia

Green in January. Blooming in the dead of winter, the Skunk Cabbage is the happening flower to see. This plant creates its own heat, so if it snows, it can melt the snow around it so its blooms will be pollinated.  We have yet to see this feature of the plant in action.  The next snow we have we will be down on the Indian Creek floodplain to witness this wonder of nature. Today, we actively sought out the Skunk Cabbage, hoping to see a blooming flower in the middle of January.

To live in the vicinity of Skunk Cabbage in the dead of winter is something we appreciate.  Just go down to the low spots, along a creek or stream, and the Skunk Cabbage can be found blooming in the winter.

A windy and cold January day in Morris Park, Philadelphia

A windy and cold January day in Morris Park, Philadelphia

A cold and windy day in Morris Park. In the upland forest area on the Morris Park Road trail, we needed to bundle up. This is a great time to appreciate the silhouettes of the trees in that winter light.  The sun breaks through and creates startling images of the forest.

The winter sun illuminates the structure of the land, its topography and mass is presented in a raw manner. The steep hillsides and the creek are bare to the world. The plants and trees the same.  Sticks in the ground of varying sizes, also barren.  The ground is exposed as well, covered only with dead leaves that have become brittle.

Under the leaves are the many dormant roots, with vital buds waiting for the right moment to grow. The leafless trees also wait.

The winter sun gives us an impressionable light.  An unmistakable brightness and contrast to the darkness of winter.

A windy and cold January day, with Oak trees, in Morris Park, Philadelphia

A windy and cold January day, with Oak trees, in Morris Park, Philadelphia

Like the blooming Skunk Cabbage, the shining winter sun is much appreciated.