Which tree do you prefer, Palmetto or the Oak?
The first time I brought my husband, Kevin home to Hilton Head Island, I believe that one of the first things he noticed were the oak trees. I know this because he points them out every time we visit. Of course I quietly questioned his decision at first. When people come to South Carolina don’t they look for the palmettos? It is, after all, on the state flag. It’s on the licence plate. You see the little sticker that people, residents and visitors alike, put in the back window of their car. It’s on that big wall that greets you when you drive the I-95 North and cross the Georgia/South Carolina border (BTW, good looking out on that grand gateway because I have always detested that dull, green “South Carolina Welcomes You” sign). And most importantly, the palmettos are either growing wild or planted every few feet when you enter the South Carolina, the low country in particular. Palmettos yeah? Nope. Kevin loved the oak trees from the time he first laid eyes upon them. But you know how it is when you grow up somewhere and take everything for granted. To me, the oak was just a tree. It’s not on the t-shirt. Not on a souvenir cup. Kevin is pretty observant though. As a planner himself, he has to be. So I decided, let me take another look at these oak trees and see them from his perspective. Hmm tall. Majestic. Sturdy. A tree. Ok, let me look some more. Old. I mean really old. I mean these trees have probably seen so much. These are probably the same trees my ancestors saw when they first swam over (Ok, they actually swam to the neighboring Pinckney Island but you get the picture). Hey and check out these thick tree limbs that stretch on forever. I can sit on this branch as if it were a bench. I can climb that branch. And check out these branches that pop in and out of the ground! How awesome is that? Do the oak tree branches do this anywhere else? And looking up I see the Spanish Moss draping the limbs, adding a distinctive touch to the canopy. Yeah oak trees! I still love my palmettos but Kevin is onto something here. But when I think about it, it is the oak make up “my trees” that guide me into Hilton Head, at least what’s left of them.
My novel is entitled, “The Promise of Palmettos” (Kevin actually came up with the title, which I love) however, it is the mighty oak that makes the cameo appearance in the story. Although the palmetto is an in-your-face tree, the oak tree cannot be ignored. It’s quiet, but strong. No one puts it on a shirt but it’s still noticeable especially to those who are looking for something much deeper and more meaningful. People like Kevin.