Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Deep Gap Landmark Maple

This landmark maple overlooks the Deep Gap. It is within the NFS Blue Ridge Parkway boundary. It appears the boundary was shaped around this tree and the old cemetery it marks.

It can be seen from the valley below along US 221. Looking north east beyond this ancient maple one can see Mt. Jefferson.

This giant maple has magnificent form. It has spread nicely over the 150 years it has anchored this place on earth. I estimate it to be 150 years because many of the feildstone cemetery markers beneath it are scratched from the 1850s.

It took quite a blow in the last winds and ice storm, dropping several wide spreading lower limbs. Limbs that reached out to recieve the light yet now are no longer capable of sustaining the weight; natures way of pruning its form to withstand another 150 years.
Some of the headstones and markers are piled against the tree base. Having been moved there when found dragged by tractors farming the christmas trees. Winds and ice and storms have not taken this tree, but christmas trees may some day get in the way.


Sometimes I look up through the branches and think about them reaching up into the light. Carrying the heritage of those below into the heavens.

One of the graveyard markers has the date of December 23, 1863. I have wondered about those times in these hills. I wonder what happened that cold December? Could they dig and bury their losses in the freeze of winter? Or would that have to wait on spring?Yellow jonquils and orange gravelillies bloom each spring beneath this maple in the eternal quest for rebirth.

1 comment:

Ash Tree said...

I live out in Deep Gap. For me, this grand landmark Maple has come to symbolize coming home to Deep Gap's majestic mountains, rolling fields, and pungent smell of cows every day. This tree has been my solace each day I see it reaching closer to the heavens than anything else around. While seeing this beautiful Heritage Tree brings me joy each day, I am saddened that this Maple is the only tall tree like it for several hundred yards on the top of this mountain. How long has it been alone? What other kinds of beautiful trees once stood near it right outside of the cemetary before they were cut for human purposes? I hope that this blog and other forms of human passion for trees will preserve the Heritage trees in the High Country, including those younger trees that will some day carry a heritage of their own.