Yesterday was a cold and cloudy day, and I spent most of the day shopping in Jackson (about an hour away from Vicksburg). I had a list of several odds and ends I need for decorating projects and after making several stops and coming up empty handed, I was not a happy camper. Around 2:30, I ran out of steam and patience and headed for home.
As I approached Vicksburg, I thought about the huge old ginkgo tree in the National Cemetery in the Vicksburg National Military Park that I've been watching for several weeks in hopes of capturing with my camera at its peak.
I took these two pictures back in October ...
When photographing ginkgos, timing is everything. It seems like their leaves turn a glorious golden yellow overnight, and a few days later they start falling -- almost simultaneously. With cold, rainy, and windy weather forecast for the next few days, I knew it would be my last chance to get the pictures I've been waiting for so long. I rarely leave home without my cameras, and, even though I was tired from a stressful and frustrating day of shopping, I could almost hear that old ginkgo calling my name.
And sure enough ... my heart skipped a beat when, from the other side of the cemetery, I saw its radiant golden leaves beckoning to me .. and I knew my day had just gotten better.
The Ginkgo is the world's oldest living species of tree and can live a long time, some up to a thousand years. This is one of the largest ginkgos I've ever seen, and I would love to know how old it is. I'm sure it was there to witness the Siege of Vicksburg and hear the roar of the cannons as they bombarded Fort Hill. As I stood under its massive limbs which sheltered hundreds of headstones, I was overcome with awe and wished it could talk. Oh, what stories it could tell!
Capturing this old ginkgo in its finest hour of glory made my day and was worth trudging around the wet cemetery in my "shopping clothes" and mid-forties temperatures. It was like spending a quiet moment with God, and I will always treasure the experience.
I am linking this to "Outdoor Wednesday," hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer, and am looking forward to seeing everyone else's outdoors today.
Follow up: After I received a comment from Karen, I e-mailed the Arbor Day Foundation requesting information on how to go about dating the ginkgo. I promptly received a reply from an ADF representative stating that the estimated age of a tree like it is about one year for every inch of its circumference. Well, needless to say, I couldn't wait to go measure "my" tree, and enlisted the help of my husband when he got home from work. We went over to the park and measured the circumference as instructed, and it measured 234 inches, give or take a few inches. That's 234 YEARS OLD, folks, which would make it just a sapling in 1775 -- the year the American Revolution began! Is that not awesome!
After I sent photos of the tree to him, the Arbor Day Foundation representative told me that a tree that size might be a national or at least a state "champion." He provided a link to the American Forests website, and I discovered that they only register trees that are native to America, so, unfortunately, that would exclude a ginkgo tree. However, it will always be a "champion" in my eyes and in my heart.