The other day I took a detour to see about a tree. I was driving down the Thames Coast from the Coromandel Peninsula, and on the map I saw a little star that said Square Kauri. I was intrigued, and any living being that is over 1200 years old deserves the homage of a long drive down a curvy gravel road. Followed by the climbing of several hundred steps. Which I decided to run up, because, I don’t know, I felt like I should honor the old guy with my sweat and arrive winded or something.
Though not as old as Methuselah or Prometheus, Big Trunk Square Pants was something to behold. That tree has done a lot of living. It is the 12th oldest in the area.
Karui trees are members of the ancient Agathis genus. They are evergreens with enormous trunks that rise straight out of the earth and don’t branch or curve or cha cha until their crown. Their bark is smooth and light gray, and flakes a bit, leaving a lovely subtle patina. They are beautiful. The big ones are rare now. It’s that same old sad story of over-logging.
I couldn’t get down and touch Square Pants like I wanted to, him being quarantined and all (kauri dieback is a potentially deadly plant pathogen that effects these trees and is transmitted through soil, among other things). But he certainly made an impression. I wondered how many hands it would take to reach around such a trunk. I wondered how many little human lives this tree has looked down upon.