Tuesday, July 15, 2008
the third element of summer: shade
there's not a lot of shade here on the coast. near the beach, the sea winds do a great job of shearing the tops of the smallish scrubby trees that grow nearby. inland, the landscape is dotted with gazillions of Long Leaf Pines (the official state tree, i believe.) have you ever seen a long leaf pine? they are incredibly tall, with slim trunks, and few branches. the "long leaves" are actually "long pine needles." not so great for shade. (we have several in our backyard - i call them the charlie brown trees, because they really do look like the sad little Christmas tree that charlie brown picked out.)
but in the village of Southport, which is somewhat protected from the harshest ocean elements, the real shady showpieces are the Live Oaks. we're talking trees that have been standing for two, three, four hundred years. gorgeous specimens that reach their branches in fantastic arches over the streets. gnarly limbs that provide support for swings and climbing feet.
this particular tree is known as the Indian Trail Tree, as it is thought to have marked a trail hewn by the Cape Fear Indains (who lived in this area up until about 1720.) the story is that when they left the shore to go hunting inland, they bent a sapling over to mark the spot where they would return. over the years, the tree trunk grew again from the spot where it had been bent over, and created a very unique landmark.
can you see the small space that still remains where the trunk was bent? believe it or not, 60 to 100 years ago, children could still crawl through that space when they were playing in the park!
we have a wonderful concert series called *summer sundays*, and every weekend there is live music played under the Indian Trail Tree. families come and relax for a few hours, enjoying ice cream and sweet tea and wonderful company. no matter how great the musicians, though, it is the tree that steals the show!