A solitary water tupelo, its trunk shattered by some ancient cataclysm, stands alone in the still water of Merchants Millpond.
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The riot of fall colors is evident on Merchants Millpond, last season’s leaves turning yellow and red on the cypress and tupelo trees, but the grandfather tree remains green, despite its trunk split and eroded. It’s hard to imagine what adversity the old tupelo has faced. Maybe lightning split the trunk or fire withered it. It endures despite the damage, still throwing green leaves at the sky.
The old axiom of Darwinian evolution – the relentless competition of tooth and claw – is losing credibility with new scientific discoveries that many species cooperate to survive. Much of the research has come from the secret lives of trees. Older trees share resources with younger ones to promote their growth. Even across species of trees, there is an exchange of nutrients and nitrogen that changes direction with the seasons.
Maybe the old tupelo is being supported by the forest that surrounds it.
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