I’ve been in South Carolina for a month and in the South for six, and still the live oaks fascinate me. There really is nothing like them. I used to think redwoods were my favorite but these live oaks, well, they’re growing on me.
On the far end of the beach, past the point where the dogs can go is the place where the plovers nest and where this remnant of a tree stands its ground.
Last winter, this tree was covered with shells and small tokens that people had left over time, many of them mementos of people special to those who had taken the time to hike all the way out here. I, too, participated in the local tradition, hanging a small golden bear that had been my mother’s.
Hurricane Florence stripped the tree bare last fall as it passed by here. When I visited the tree this week, there was clearly a different theme going on: all shells, no mementos. And maybe that’s as it should be. The tree held them for a while, then the wind carried them away. The memories remain.
I no longer want reminders of what was, what got broken, what got lost, what got wasted. There was a period, a long period, dating from my childhood until quite recently, when I thought I did. A period during which I believed that I could keep people fully present, keep them with me, by preserving their mementos, their “things,” their totems.