Saturday, June 3, 2017
The Powers-That-Be have been wrangling for decades over widening the state road that runs through the center of the little town near where I live. (I regard that little town as "my" hometown but my house is "in the county" which means that the town is not really mine at all.) The wrangling seems to be coming to some sort of conclusion lately since a couple of side roads have been constructed, although it has taken absolutely ages for them to open.
I have taken to travelling on one of those roads to go to the Post Office. The route is only shorter by a half mile or so but it avoids the heavy traffic at the intersection of two state highways. There's still work going on, although I've never noticed anyone actually doing any. Like any new road, there are things that don't make sense like turning lanes and access points that go absolutely nowhere.
It was while I was driving past one of those this morning that I saw something that I hadn't noticed before. Someone had graded the land all round a couple of trees so that each tree stood alone atop an island of red clay soil that rose about 6 feet high. (They are in the picture above [to the left of and much behind the small sycamore in the center of the shot] but I didn't get a good capture with my cell phone.) And I wondered why someone should be so bothered as to do such with those trees. The trees weren't anything special--a species of oak, it seemed to me, although I was at some distance. But it wasn't Live Oak and the trees weren't especially old. Very old Live Oaks hold an important place in the hearts of Mississippians, after all, and some of them even have names.
There is a national register for really big trees called the Champion Tree Program. As I understand it, the largest Live Oak in the Mississippi was here in my home county (and, yes, I can call the county mine even if I can't claim the town) but I don't see it on the list anymore, so maybe Hurricane Katrina got it. Katrina got a lot of things it should never have taken, including a massive pair of tulip poplars and about 8 or 10 dump truck loads of various large trees from my own yard.
Sometimes we lose trees by natural means (like that killer hurricane) and sometimes by the march of progress because folks just don't seem to care when maybe they should. I don't know what was going on with those trees I saw today but somebody was sure trying to do something, and they were going out of their way to avoid those trees.
When we build anew, we don't necessarily have to destroy the old to do so. We can respect and preserve what is special. Despite any amount of planning and preparation, we can't always see where a new road will lead; the familiar old landmarks can help us to mark the way. It kinda strikes me that these notions (and more) could be applicable to a lot of things we encounter. We can learn a lot from new roads.
Life is good.