We got out of the house today, before I lost my cool, and the weather got too hot. My mistake…that would have had to have been 5am to avoid the real heat. Big Tree Park was on the agenda because I hadn’t been there since some poor drug addict built a fire inside the declining 3500 year old bald cypress tree so that she could get a better look at her crack pipe. With the trunk hollowed out, the sparks floated up and burned the old guy from the inside out. I feel for the person responsible, obviously her life was wealth of bad decisions. I hope she can find some hope…at the time
The Senator, that was the name of this grand feller, and he was about 168 feet tall at his grandest moment, and then a storm took off the top 40’ back in the ‘20s; still it was unbelievable to see his remaining 129’ in the midst of a young forest and lovely park. He was quite the draw. The stump still stands charred and jagged like a “Rock and Roll forever” hand gesture. What remains is guarded with a large fence to keep everyone out.
There is one other bald cypress that is about 2000 years old and 89’ tall. Just a few yards away, she is called Lady Liberty and also has a fence protecting her now. The coolest thing that came out of this unfortunate situation is that a high school teacher back in the 1990’s with an interest in bald cypress trees got together with a couple of other people involved at the University of Florida and Central Florida Lands and Timber Nursery “to develop a seed orchard of select cypress trees.” During this effort they took branches from the senator, “grafted them to a root stock, propagated them,” and the result is a tree that has grown into a 40’ bald cypress and is a clone of The Senator. It’s named—appropriately—“The Phoenix.” It now resides in Big Tree Park to pay homage to the memory of its advent and predecessor.