We in northeastern Ohio have witnessed record low temperatures and snowfall this year - it's snowing as I write! My family has had more than our fill of winter gloom, complemented with winter coats, boots and gloves, shoveling sidewalks and clearing driveways By this point in winter, even the strongest are ready for some sunshine. A recent long weekend provided an opportunity for a quick family getaway to Kiawah Island, S.C.
During the drive south, my nieces, ages 9, 11 and 13, entertained themselves by discussing what they wanted to do when they arrived. Their list included walking along the beach to hunt for shells, hoping to spot dolphins in the ocean, reading outside in the sunshine, and eating at their favorite seafood restaurant. The list also included a family tradition - visiting the historic Angel Oak on Johns Island in Charleston.
The Angel Oak is a Live Oak (Quercus virginiana), which is a native species found throughout the Lowcountry along the coast of South Carolina. Believed to be in excess of 1,500 years old, its massive, draping limbs and wide spreading canopy present the aura of an angel.
Why visit the Angel Oak on a beach vacation?
"It's tradition," remarked my niece Logan. "It is a very cool tree that has lived many, many years, and it is very big with many branches. It is a special piece of history."
Not to be outdone, her sister Sarah chimed in, "The Angel Oak might be the oldest tree east of the Mississippi River. " She then recited Angel Oak stats off a magnet obtained at the gift shop on a previous visit:
- 65 feet tall
- 25.5 feet wide
- 17,000 square feet of shade
- largest limb has a circumference of 11.25 feet and length of 89 feet
"That's big!" Sarah said.
"The Angel Oak is a true survivor," added her sister Megan. It has survived countless hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and even human interference.
Lesson concluded, the girls scooped up some Angel Oak acorns and packed them away for safekeeping until they returned home with hopes to plant their own piece of history. "We want to grow an Angel Oak in our yard," said Logan.
The Angel Oak was featured in The Cultural Landscape Foundation's Landslide 2007: Heroes of Horticulture. Learn more http://tclf.org/sites/default/files/landslide/2007/angel_oak/index.html