San Juan, Puerto Rico
What Is Left Of My Ucar Tree
Sandra Pena de Ortiz
Photograph - Photography
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This is a photograph of what is left of a majestic ucar tree (Bucida bu
ceras) that we had in our front yard. The tree was splendid! Trees of this same species, one endemic to Puerto Rico, adorn the yards of every house in my neighborhood. But mine was special because it was mine. It was my ucar tree. Our tree had resisted the forces of several hurricanes hitting the island of Puerto Rico. The worst, which my family and I experienced, was Hurricane Georges. Georges hit the island of Puerto Rico on September 20, 1998 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_Hurricane_Georges_in_Puerto_Rico) , when it made landfall at close to 155 mph. The experience is difficult to explain. The damage to the island was un-surpassing. Electricity returned to my home in the metropolitan area in three days and water after two weeks. However, those living in rural areas, and even in certain metropolitan municipalities outside of San Juan, had to wait much longer; in some cases even 3 months for the electricity services to return.
My ucar tree suffered grimly. The day after the storm, my husband and several neighbors worked together to remove the street debris left by the fallen branches of so many ucars, including our own. Even my 4 year old son lent a hand! You may be thinking that this was the end of my tree; that Georges was the cause of its destruction. Yet again, the tree, like all the rest in my neighborhood, survived and blossomed to become awesome ucars again. This was true until one day the tree began to slowly die; to dry out. This did not happen to any other hucar tree in my neighborhood. Eventually and sadly the tree simply died. I have ideas regarding the causes, but they are only unproven ideas and they bear no mentioning here. After many many months of waiting to see if life would emerge we gave up hope and agreed to cut what was still standing and I was sadly left with what you see in the photo. This indeed makes me sad because I really enjoyed my tree and felt proud and content that I had a tree. However, one day I decided to photograph what is left of my ucar tree. As can be appreciated in the photograph, I found beauty! I saw beauty in its dry and low situation of death and also plenty of beauty in the life that now surrounds it!
June 6th, 2013
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