Bald cypress trees stand like a silent coven, draped with Spanish moss, as the sun rises over Merchants Millpond, NC.
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A dense stand of bald cypress on Merchants Millpond, sharply etched by early morning light, upright as Neolithic stones on an English hillside. The dark water of the swamp and the brightly lit Spanish moss add to the sense of mystery, a sense of the sacred.
I grew up in Los Angeles, a city without a history, a fiction invented by Hollywood and Disneyland. I’ve lived in many places since, rootless as a sailor, but it wasn’t until I came to the lowlands of the Carolina coastal plain that I found context, a sense of place, a sense of the sacred.
The old Romans called it genius loci – a spirit of place. It’s a fabric tightly woven of landscape, history, culture, and human values. Our relentlessly acquisitive culture has largely forgotten the sacred value of place but confronted by the barrenness of our lives, we are beginning to remember.
I think this place, this forest of bald cypress and water tupelo, is as much sacred as Notre Dame cathedral or Stonehenge.
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