A quick couple of notes. If you have a chance, hop over to Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust today–I’m talking about how Jean Lafitte inadvertently gave me the idea for Lovely, Dark, and Deep, and you can enter to win the tour prizes! The last episode of LDD as a serial releases today, so it’s the last chance to get the full book for $1.99.
There’s also a fun thing going on over at the Fantastic Reviews blog. The reviewer, Amy, is pitting River Road against another book, and looks like DJ and Co. will be moving on to the next round!
To scientists, it’s quercus virginiana, aka the Southern Live Oak. In many areas of the Southern U.S., it’s just another tree. It’s only when you reach the Gulf coastal areas—Southeast Texas, the southern coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle—that you find the really old trees with their twisting branches and trunks. Add some drapes of Spanish moss and you have creepy Southern gothic!
In New Orleans, there was a live oak in the courtyard of the building next door to my house that was estimated to be 350 years old and took up a quarter of the block. It was protected by the state, and we’d have to get permission to trim it away from the roof. It’s cool to think that tree was standing when Jean Lafitte lived in this area.
A block away is St. Charles Avenue, where the live oaks on the sides of the street form a solid canopy over the neutral ground (what the rest of the world calls a “median”) all the way through Uptown and Riverbend. While the flooding of the city after Hurricane Katrina killed many trees (all of the magnolia trees, for example) because the floodwater was salty, the live oaks did fine. They’re native to this area and climate and their roots are impervious to the salt. The only ill effect from the hurricane was that they were completely stripped of leaves. The streetcar tracks didn’t fare nearly as well.
In New Orleans’ City Park are the infamous “Dueling Oaks,” where gentlemen such as Andrew Jackson or our favorite pirate would hold duels. Neither of those guys ever lost one, and the trees are still there.
West of New Orleans, along the River Road, the pirate Jean Lafitte ran his stolen goods through a couple of the plantations whose owners were business colleagues. These oaks are there now, and they were there when Jean arrived to spend a weekend with his cronies. This is the entrance to Oak Alley Plantation.
This is the famous Evangeline Oak, located in St. Martinville, Louisiana, immortalized in Longfellow’s poem “Evangeline,” which dealt with the Acadians’ (now Cajun) exile from Nova Scotia by the British in 1755.
And finally, I’ll leave you with a tree from the Barataria Preserve south of New Orleans, which probably doesn’t look too different than it did in Lafitte’s day. Who knows…maybe he was here!
I have a $5 Amazon gift card (or Book Depo equivalent) up for grabs today. What’s your favorite tree?