The Grandfather Tree

When I was getting ready to move to this island, my mom asked, half joking, if I was going to change the name of my blog: Rebecca on the Beach?  But there are definitely woods here, albeit different from the ones I wandered in in Ohio.  The canopy of the climax forest is composed mostly of live oaks, and one live oak in particular has caught my attention.  It’s a gnarled, stooped, spreading old tree, the sort that demands to be climbed, a tree with so much personality that it has its own name: they call it the Grandfather Tree.

Its massive limbs are a world all their own, supporting their own miniature ecosystem of Spanish moss and resurrection ferns.

Resurrection fern gets its name from the fact that it can dry out and turn brown during a drought, appearing dead, only to come back to life when water is available.  Spanish moss is not moss at all, but belongs in bromeliad family – believe it or not, it’s related to pineapple!  Both are epiphytes, meaning they grow non-parasitically on the branches of trees, getting most of their moisture and nutrients from the air around them.

While I was perched on one of these branches, a skink with a tail in a heart-stopping shade of blue darted past me on a neighboring limb.  There was no way I could get a photo of it without scaring it away, but it was beautiful.  Imagine being a skink and living out your whole life crawling among the roots and branches of these trees, with the beach, a five-minute walk away to a human, as alien to you as the surface of Mars.

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