I debated (at greater length than I care to admit) what to call this photograph, which typified to me the life cycle of the swamp near my home where I went hiking this weekend. (In Florida, we hike in swamps, have snapping turtles as pets, and casually brush away alligators with nine-irons when they encroach on your golf ball to the horror of your father-in-law, who grew up in Maryland.) This small laurel oak (Quercus Laurifolia) sprouted at the very base of the gigantic live oak (Quercus Virginiana), and I nearly passed by without paying it any heed. I found myself gravitating towards the bright green moss that was overcoming the live oak’s hollowed trunk. As I was musing on the etymology of the word phoenix (which bears its own post), and how, in the swamp, death feeds the living, I noticed this little laurel oak, no more than a year or two old, quite literally rising in the shadow of the live oak, which would have been more than three hundred years old, judging by its size. The English word “nascent” has its origins in the deponent Latin verb, nascor, meaning to come into existence or to spring forth. As I thought about calling this post “Ancient and Nascent,” I balked. This photograph, though set against the old live oak, is, in truth, about the laurel coming into existence and its embryonic roots taking hold betwixt and between the taproots of the dead oak, which could stretch for hundreds of feet in all directions.
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