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By Joseph Dempsey Knee High in Cypress

Sunday, March 8, 2009

At first blush, comparing a cypress tree in south Arkansas to an iceberg in the Arctic may seem to be prima facie evidence that the one doing the comparing is a likely candidate for the funny-farm. The fact is, there is a characteristic these two share, to wit: There’s (normally) much more underwater than meets the eye. Not so now in Enterprise Lake at Wilmot, Arkansas. I can’t speak for the latest crop of ‘bergs.

Enterprise Lake is low — so low that under normal circumstances, I would have been standing somewhere between knee and chest deep in lake water to shoot these magnificent cypress trees. Since I am about six-foot, three-inches tall, that is, as my grandmother would say, “A right smart of water.” Instead, my feet were on ground dry ground.

It’s not often you see cypress trees of this age with dry feet. It is a sight to behold. Some of the well under-pinned trees shown in this week's photo probably exceed eight feet in diameter at the base. Their age? Perhaps hundreds of years. But don’t get me to lyin’.

From the vantage point of this shot, the water line on the shore behind me indicates that I am about 20-to-30 feet into the lake bed. For some of you, this may seem like a self-destructive descent into the lair of Moloch’s bad-seed cousin, the fabled creature from the dark lagoon. For this ol’ boy and other nature nuts, it is tantamount to entering the forbidden “Holy of Holies,” tip-toeing in a place where few mortals have trod.

Adding to the aura of this hallowed place, the cypress trees soar to cathedral height, admitting jolts of light like sunlit stained glass windows. Crashing to the floor and settling on rippled water, the light creates intricate, mystic patterns.

There’s more — in sailors’ parlance, the wind was “blowing like stink.” Whipping stoutly through the trees, the wind set banners of Spanish moss into majestic motion. The pale emerald streamers were accompanied by an anthem of epic proportions. George Frederic Handel would have been green with envy.

The cynics out there are probably asking, “What about that green stuff on the water?” Most people believe it is some sort of primordial soup, or perhaps an aggressive flesh-eating scum. Wrong. It is actually cute little green leaves about the size of bird shot. Almost like a micro-lily pad.

This makes me wonder. How many other special places are waiting to be visited? Since these natural gems don’t e-mail invitations, the only alternative is to go looking for them. Sounds like a plan.

N O T E S:  
Nikon D300/AF-S Nikkor 18-135mm f3.5-5.6G ED @ 58 mm focal length (88mm -35mm equivalent) / Tripod mounted, remote cord tripped • ISO 200 • 1/60@f18 • Post processed with Photoshop CS4 Extended and Genuine Fractals Print Pro.

See more cypress pictures on our blog, Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.
Also a smidgen of history which most have forgotten.

Click the jump wings
to see the previous
Photo of the Week.
Click the camera
for an index to every
Photo of the Week.
weekly grist

Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog.  — J. D.


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