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Fred Nation at tree.jpg


Look. Behold. Contemplate the Hiding Tree in the heart of Mobile’s Tensaw Delta, the second sizeable delta in the contiguous United States. Naturalist, myrmecologist, Father of Biodiversity, Edward Osborne Wilson called Blakeley State Park the American Amazon and deemed it a sanctuary. Attend the oak. Once it hid Confederate soldiers after the fall of Fort Blakeley when they sought to evade capture, after Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on 9 April 1865. No internet then. No cell phones. The fighting men did not know the war was over. Breastworks at Blakeley remain, but tombstones have crumbled into dust. 

            “Why war?” Albert Einstein asked Sigmund Freud this in a letter dated 10 July 1932. He thinks time is an illusion, but in 2022, the Delta thrives. 

            Examine a map.  Travel Alabama Highway 225, 4.5 miles from the small town of Spanish Fort. Enter Blakeley State Park. Go stand inside the Hiding Tree. When the wood is dark and the wilderness taunts with things humans fail to understand, see how limbs reach out to embrace the sky. And whether it’s fact or fiction, Oliver Van Aken of the University of Western Australia says trees communicate with each other via a sort of subterranean internet of fungus.  

            Ogle the Cypress’ knobby knees. Observe them as they stand in waiting waters. Touch their gray stretched skin and regard how sunlight trembles their crowns each dapatical dawn. 

            The largest tree in Alabama’s Forestry record books is that of a Cypress, 131 feet in height and
27 feet in width. The Bald Cypress got its name because wind sheared the treetops. Consider the Cajun “Twelve Days of Christmas” for it grants six cypress knees as the true love’s gift.  Also add five poule d’eau, four pousse café, three stuffed shrimp, two voodoo dolls, and a crawfish in a cypress tree. 

            In the mind’s eye, you still might see in the swamp, a man dressed in dyed pantaloons. He’s wearing a roundabout jacket of drab cloth and a shabby beaver hat. It’s 19 February 1807. He is observed by Captain Edward P. Gaines who stops and shouts: “Aaron Burr, you’re the man who shot and killed Alexander Hamilton.” Flash forward 215 years. The Delta scene’s on Broadway. Hamilton lives again. Burr too, and they’re singing. At Blakeley State Park, the trees listen and sway to an anapestic, trochaic, or iambic beat. The Mobile-Tensaw Delta is poetry, is a poem. 5000 years ago, people lived where the Mobile, Tensaw, Apalachee, Spanish, Blakeley and Middle Rivers are refuge and soul. 

Watch your step traveler. Observe that moccasin writhing at your feet. Beware.     

Note:  Pousse-café is an after-dinner liqueur.

(Sue Walker)

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