A gentleman doesn’t discuss a lady’s age — that’s what tradition says, and I suppose when you’re between 400-1400 years old, you’d rather keep that to yourself.
The first stop after our day at the zoo is Angel Oak, an enormous Live Oak tree on John’s Island, just outside of Charleston, SC. It is, in a word, simply enormous. It is huge in the way that the Grand Canyon is immense: one hears about it, sees pictures, etc., but it’s only the actual physical encounter that makes the impression.
Branches on the tree are larger than most of the trees we have in our backyard. They’re so large that a network of cables and metal supports seem to be the only things keeping them up.
It’s difficult to imagine anything surviving long enough to grow to this size, but I’m not quite sure how old that is. Web information indicates an age of 1,400-1,600 years. Still, it’s difficult to imagine a tree surviving that long. That would make it an acorn when the first ecumenical councils were formulating orthodox Christianity.
The brochure distributed at the oak, however, puts the age at 300-400 years. That’s much more modest, but it’s difficult to believe a tree growing that large that quickly. Our Tulip Poplar in the backyard is certainly 200 years old, and it’s not even close to this size.
Still, age matters less than tenacity, and for a tree to grow to this size in such a relatively harsh, salty climate is remarkable.
Signs posted around the tree warn of dire consequences if anyone attempts to climb it, and that’s certainly understandable. The tree would not last many more years if it invited a free-for-all of climbing, swinging, and the like. Still, it’s difficult to resist walking up one of the great branches and taking a seat.
After a lunch break, we get back on the road, arriving at Edisto Beach mid-afternoon.
It’s been three years since we’ve been on a beach: K and I head straight for the water, shoes off. L is much less enthusiastic. In fact, she is initially terrified of the water.
The sound, the motion, the size — they’re all too much for L and she spends most of our first walk in someone’s arms.
Eventually, she calms down enough to play with her new basket of beach toys.
“We’ll get her in the water by the end of the week,” I assure K.