Banyan Trees

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My mom's sister Sue noticed a banyan tree as we were leaving the funeral home Thursday. Her observation sparked the memory of hurricane Wilma which swept through Naples in October of 2005. Kristen, Reagan, Kaitlyn, and I visited three days after the hurricane. My parents elected to stay despite newscasters' warnings, and my mom vowed she would never do that again.

The first thing we did was drive around the storm-ravaged streets of Collier County. We stood by fallen trees and took pictures. I marveled at the destructive power of a hurricane. And I noticed a pattern. The beautiful, elegant, towering palm trees were down. The banyan trees were still standing.

Banyan trees are indigenous to India. Their distinguishing feature is the trunk. As the tree ages, roots creep down over the trunk in search of the soil below. That's what sets banyan trees apart. They have lots of roots. Deep roots. Massive roots. Roots above the ground and below the ground. They're the ones that make it through the storm. Today I find that comforting.

John Milton describes the banyan tree in his poem "Paradise Lost."

"The fig-tree at this day to Indians known
In Malabar or Deccan, spreads her arms,
Branching so broad and long, that on the ground
The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow
About the mother tree, a pillar’d shade,
High over-arched and echoing walks between."