On the eldest tree

The other day while wandering through the park, I was awed by the beauty and obvious aging of enormous live oak trees. And then I started to wonder, could a tree live forever, in the perfect conditions?

Alas, since then, I’ve learned they could not- eventually the bark would become too brittle and weak to support life. As all things do, even the greatest and oldest would wither. The oldest known standing tree, named Methuselah, is about 5,000 years old. But wait, the really amazing thing is that there are root systems that can date back somewhere close to 80,000 years old! The roots live for much longer than the rest of the tree, and can continue to produce new trees as the root system expands. So there are tree systems that stretch for miles and have prevailed for over 80,000 years! But back to Methuselah, this tree resides in California and to think of all he has been witness to. He was just a sapling in the earth when  the Egyptians carved hieroglyphics and Mayans roamed the Americas. Native Americans may have worshiped his gnarled branches. He was already grown and twisted with age when European colonizers wandered over his roots. He watched as grey faced men with gold in their eyes, flooded into his land in search for treasures. If Methuselah could communicate with us, we would surely know ourselves much better. Would he say that the human race has accomplished great feats? Or would he decide that our plight is merely one unfathomably small experience in creation? Either way he surely puts our existence in perspective.

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