If you have read any number of my posts, it would not be an overstatement to say that I enjoy metaphors. This lonely tree on the beach at Jekyll Island just begs for one, and who am I to deny what nature has so freely given.
I took this photograph on our “babymoon” just before Nora was born. By “just before” I mean that Anna went into labor shortly after this photograph was taken. We got back to the house just in time to turn around and go to the hospital, where Nora was born a brief time later. I did not have time to process this photography until quite a while later, and here it is two and a half years later before I am posting it.
I was this lonely tree for longer than I would care to admit. I had come out of that phase of my life by the time I came upon this tree, roots bare, and stark against the cloudless sky, but it is no less significant. It represents many of the days that I walked on the beach at Big Talbot or nearer to our house in Ponte Vedra searching for soil into which I could sink my roots. The irony of looking for this in the shifting sands of beaches is not, now, lost on me. Nor is it lost on me that this tree took root on those sands, or that it continues to stand there despite hurricanes and erosion that would have felled weaker trees.
In fact, this tree stands because it is small, and its roots are proportionally giant and deep. It would not surprise me if the root system was as large and deep as the tree is tall and wide. As I look at it now, I imagine that the roots are a mirror image of the branches above the gray sand. They are gnarled and strong, irregular and radical. Radical is a favorite word of mine. It literally comes from the Latin word radix, which means root. To be radical is to affect the fundamental, root nature of something. Conversely, a radical is someone who advocates a departure from the fundamental, root nature of a thought or idea. I love the derivations, the roots of words. They give words that we take for granted so many more layers, more strata, which, if you were wondering, means layers of things strewn about…I could go on and on…ad infinitum.
And they wonder why I was a Latin and English major…