Friday, September 10, 2010

Purple Jacarandas and a huge Fig tree!

Santa Barbara CA

As soon as we came within sight of Santa Barbara it immediately felt like southern California. Palms abounded, flowers burst from every corner, the wind became gentler and sky even seemed to be bluer. We turned off the 101 to hunt up a giant fig we had been told about and I saw my first jacaranda tree. The jacaranda tree comes from South America and blooms with purple-blue flowers in the spring. The streets were lined with these beautiful trees. I am happy to say we continued to see them all over LA and Anaheim.

Josh located the huge fig at the train station sans directions with no problems. I’m glad I don’t try to hide from him. I swear he has a built in GPS! The fig was truly incredible. It's spreading branches shaded the entire corner of a small side street tucked beside the freeway. The train station was large but empty; the unused parking lot told of busier days.

The fig was a Moreton Bay Fig from Australia, brought as a seedling to the US in 1876 and planted. The last official measurement was in 1991, when the branches spread out 167 feet with a total height of 76 feet. The trunk measured 12.5 feet around. The roots rise chest high and stretch out as wide as the branches. I read later that it is common for the homeless to sleep hidden in the roots. I found someone’s bag and blanket so it is probably true.

It is not often we have the opportunity to be next to a living monument. That's what this fig tree is. It was alive when the first automobiles began to populate the streets, it saw women get the right to vote and the civil rights movement. Beatniks slept under it in the 1950's then hippies ten years later. A generation and a half have lived and died in it's lifetime, families gained and lost fortunes, wars have been fought abroad and at home. What stories would it have for us? What wisdom for this culture of hurry and immediate entertainment?

The story continues...

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