Chocowinity Bay, North Carolina
Bald cypress trees can grow old. In the Black River swamp of North Carolina, one bald cypress is estimated to be 2,628 years old. This tree, standing on the edge of Chocowinity Bay, didn’t survive that long before a summer thunderstorm raced across the bay. The downdraft from the storm struck the water and fanned out like a blast wave. It struck the old tree, long since dead but still standing, and snapped the trunk in half. The upper limbs now lay in the water beside it.
A breeding pair of osprey built their nest in the tree’s branches when it still stood. Year after year, each Spring they returned from wintering in the south and raised another generation. I have no idea how many young birds were fledged in that nest, waiting impatiently for their parents to return, watching the bay with their sharp eyes. I saw the last generation, boisterous, demanding to be fed.