Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Life's a beech.

There's a grand multi-trunked beech tree in the Terra Nova Heritage Park in Richmond. It's along an old drive on one of the properties that was incorporated into the park. I always pause and give it a friendly pat.

Beeches aren't native to Richmond, or anywhere west of mid-continent. One of the interesting aspects of the Terra Nova park is the strange, patchy flora, which includes living reminders of the gardens and farms of the early residents.

Where I grew up, American beeches were the largest trees in the forest. They were the supporting columns of a cathedral. They looked like limestone, like poured concrete, like Diplodocus legs. As a child I would lean against them and imagine their crowns full of Passenger Pigeons. I suppose had they really been full of Passenger Pigeons, this would not have been a wise thing to do.

To be honest, I'm not sure that the Terra Nova tree is even the North American species (American beech). It may be a European beech, more commonly used in landscaping here. I'll have to check the next time I see it in leaf. I never notice the leaves. I notice that trunk, and it looks like the trunks back home, and I want to touch it.

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