This post has nothing to do with my garden but I wanted to post it because it’s heartfelt by me and is exceptional.
I haven’t been to the World Trade Center area since the disaster on September 11, 2001. That’s a thirteen year stretch now. I used to go there at least one a year for the Orchid Show at the Winter Garden before the organizer moved the show to Rockefeller Center and then to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Sometimes I would go down there just to walk around. But I’ve avoided the area since 9/11.
I still remember that day clearly. I was at my office uptown when the tragedy happened and bailed with everyone else in the scramble to get home safely. There was no transportation between the boroughs; the bridges were closed, the tunnels were closed and the subway wasn’t running. A group of us walked across Central Park to our friend’s apartment on Riverside Drive to watch the news and wait. We could smell the acrid smoke faintly as it dissipated, wafting north, away from Ground Zero. Every moment seemed eerie, unreal.
I wasn’t avoiding the area because I didn’t want to be reminded of the images I saw that day. I have unfortunately witnessed many gruesome, untimely deaths in person in my lifetime, enough to make me look at life differently. I didn’t want to go there because I don’t want to see yet another example of how destructive and senseless humans can be.
I lost my physical compass that day too. The World Trade Center served as my compass when exiting the subway. I knew where south was when I saw the Towers and then it was easy to figure out which way to go…. uptown , downtown , Eastside and Westside. Now I have to rely on the next street number before I know which way I should go.
But this post is not really about 9/11 or the World Trade Center; it’s about a tree…the Survivor Tree. A Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) tree at the World Trade Center that managed to survive after being scorched when the towers fell. It was dug up by the NYC Parks Department and nursed back to health then replanted back at the Memorial area in 2010. It is the only pear tree among oaks there.
I know trees can survive wild fires and still spring back to life the following season or when rain comes. Being burned amongst organic matter however, is much different from miles and miles of incendiary and toxic cables, fiber optics, computer chips and other substances. And, as far as I know, ornamental trees that are planted around the city don’t have very long taproots, if any, like trees that grow naturally in the wild. But this tree survived even after being buried under toxic ash for weeks.
The Survivor Tree is the reason I made the pilgrimage to the 9/11 Memorial site, just to pay my respects.
It’s not just living proof that “There’s nothing so bad that we can’t overcome it.” as narrated in ‘The Survivor Tree’ video, it’s also proof of how resilient nature can be.
Other areas of the 9/11 Memorial….