Monday, February 8, 2016

The Welcoming Friendship Tree in Long Beach, Mississippi

We started our day enjoying lunch at the Pirates CoveRestaurant in Pass-Christian, Mississippi.  We were able to eat here twice during our stay in the area.  Both times George and I shared a Shrimp Po-Boy.  Po-Boy sandwiches in the south are famous.  The reality is they are a Submarine Sandwich any place else.  But in the south you put mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato; pickle and meat on a deli roll and call it a Po-Boy.  If you get a Roast Beef Po-Boy it will probably be “fully dressed” and come with gravy on it.  We try to eat as much seafood as we can while we are in the area because it is so fresh; so we eat Seafood Po-Boy’s when we get one.  Pirates Cove is a local favorite and so the place is generally packed.  After eating, and loving, every bite of our sandwich we moved on.

We wanted to see the “Famous Friendship Tree”.   All of the brochures listed this as a one of the top attractions in the area.  We put the Friendship Tree into our GPS.  The GPS took us directly to a big Live Oak tree with a deck and viewing area surrounding it.  We took pictures, but were frustrated by how average this “great” tree seemed.  We marked it off as an “Oh, well” sight and left.  As we were leaving the campus of Southern Mississippi, I saw a great Oak tree and said: “Now THAT should be the Friendship Tree!”.  We decided to stop and take pictures of this marvelous specimen of a tree.  As we walk up we see a sign that says:  “I am called the Friendship Oak.”  Really!?  I guess the other tree was the pretend tree and we were now standing at the REAL Friendship Tree.
We were happy to have accidently tripped over the real tree; because it was fabulous.  The tree promises that “those who enter the shadow of the tree together will remain friends through all their lifetime”.  We met 2 new “friends” under the tree; they graciously offered to take our picture.  I guess we will be bound together for our lifetime.  (Quite the promise.)  It was fun being here with our travel buddies, Tom and Sandy.
This grand oak tree is over 500 years old. The Friendship Oak dates back to 1487. It was a sapling at the time that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World.  As of August 2011 the Mississippi Forestry Commission measured the tree.  It has been measured at over 59 feet high.  The circumference of the massive trunk is almost 20 feet with foliage that spreads over 155 feet.  The average length of the limbs is 60-66 feet from the trunk.  The tree forms almost 16,000 feet of glorious shade and shelter.  The roots, that are the foundation of this tree, go out more than 150 feet.

It is hard to explain this tree.  The structure is interesting and quizzical with the rising and dropping limbs. Standing under the tree I felt a sense of quiet and peace.  The massiveness of it makes one feel safe and protected—knowing it had survived some of very powerful hurricanes.  My imagination makes me wonder who else has stood under this tree taking a break from the sun under the shelter of the massive outstretched limbs.  How many had declared their never-ending love under the shadow of the tree?  I am sure there have been interesting and heart-warming stories that took place under this massive tree.

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