Wednesday, 8 January 2014

burnt and fallen

On the road to the farm there is a Nambangga (Num-bung-ga).

There was a Nambangga.

Towering and spreading, Nambangga dominate their landscape. Creatures shelter in them. People navigate by them and gather around them. People have lived in them. John Paton hid in one when he fled for his life.

They begin life as parasites. A bright orange, acorn sized seed falls into a crevice on another tree. Roots and shoots spread downwards, upwards and around, enclosing the host. Slowly, surely, steadily, the Nambangga grows and slowly, surely, steadily, the host suffocates, dies, rots and the central hollow is filled. By the time the host dies the Nambangga is strong enough to stand on its own.

These photos were taken at the beginning of 2010.

The Nambangga has grown around a Nandao ("Nun-dow"). You can see the leaves at the top are different, slightly darker.  The Nandao is still alive and well.  As far as Nambangga go, it's not a very big or old one.  But aren't the roots just fantastic?

Now, Nandao is excellent firewood. On New Year's Day, our Nambangga was found sprawled across the road. The centre had been burnt out. It had fallen.

We walked down this morning to have look.  It was still smoking.

I know that it's just a tree.  But there's something moving about their greatness and majesty that makes their falling like this unsettling and upsetting.

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