Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Mystery Tree Inspires Stories with Explanations

The foundational structures revealed

In the mist of a January rain, I enjoyed a peaceful walk in Washington Park behind the Burlingame Recreation Center. Ten acres of grassy fields, punctuated with stands of trees and a fragrant garden, are framed by mature eucalyptus in the distance.

The park was originally part of Crossways Farm. The farm, owned by Francis Carolan in the early 1900s, was an elite horse breeding farm. As such, the atmosphere was highly structured with many people employed to care for the horse facilities.

The breeding barns and training stables were complimented by a classy race track and polo field. People like the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts were welcomed and entertained there. But, perhaps most importantly, the farm served as a gathering place for California's influential leaders – people who helped create a solid financial base and governmental structure that served well then and for years to come.

The peace of today's Washington Park is a dramatic contrast to what must have been the farm's active agenda. With rain gently falling, I moved from under the protection of one evergreen to another.

There in the northeast portion of the park was a cluster of five trees, all with gleaming rust-colored trunks. Their leafy cover was blown away, revealing the structural form anchored by roots that snaked above and below ground.

One tree in particular caught my attention. The structure of the trunk seemed to be woven branches, fused together. Up close it looked like a group of muscles on steroids. Large oval depressions cast dark shadows, some mysteriously empty, while others had branches jutting out.

The large upward-reaching branches were in contrast with their relaxed limbs decorated with dangling seed pods, swaying to the music of the wind. With no leaves as reference, the identity of the tree became as mysterious as the shadowy holes.

Mystery inspires stories with their explanations.

The foundational structure revealed in the tree reflects the history of the land. The people who worked, managed and visited Crossways Farm created a foundation that promoted and contributed to California’s growth through the 20th century. The buildings on the farm supported social, sporting and business activities.

Hence, the story of the farm and the story of the tree are the foundations of longevity.

Original Article

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