If you know me, then you know I feel a connection to trees. I have written about them in past posts, drawn pictures of trees and spend time in nature surrounded by them as often as possible. Recently, a friend tipped me off about a very special tree when he found out I was going to be vacationing in the Charleston, SC area. He said it was a “must see” and boy was he right! Her name is Angel Oak Tree and she is located on Johns Island, just outside of Charleston. I say “her” because calling this incredible work of mother nature an “it” would be totally insulting.
She is an old girl, estimated to be 400-500 years old. She is massive, covering 17,000 feet with her branches. Pictures don’t do her justice. Native Americans once owned the land she sits on as well as slave holders. But more than her statistics, which you can find on the internet, is the feeling of awe and wonder when you take her in with your own eyes. I can’t help but find myself imagining all the different types of people who have sought her shelter over hundreds of years. Did she hold a special reverence with the Cussoe Indians? Did they see her Spirit and hold ceremonies honoring her? More grimly, has she witnessed death? Have humans been hung from her branches that were slaves or thieves? Or from suicide? Do their ghosts still seek refuge under her sprawled out arms? Oh the stories she could tell!
When I first saw her I quietly called her Grandmother. Not the frail, sweet, mild mannered kind of Grandmother that comes to mind when we imagine old ladies. She is tough as nails with a booming voice that commands obedience. When she beckons, you come running. At the same time her heavy, gnarled arms will protect you and hold you in a warm embrace. She’s a badass Grandmother in the best way.
It’s interesting when we put a human perspective on a non-human object like a tree. It provides a sense of connection, understanding and caring, even. This is apparent in the families and land owners that have protected her over the years so that we may enjoy her now. When you think about it, we are all connected in some way, humans and trees. I wonder what she would say if she knew such a huge fuss was being made of her?