Stories

The Story of Pisa

Pisa is a tree. She is a shortleaf pine (Pinus elliottii), and is now a leaning tree in much the same way as the Tower of Pisa, thus the name. Timex was a candidate for her name because of the old Timex logo "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.", but that didn't sound very nice, so Pisa was the easy choice. Hurricane Zeta, which struck Greene County, Mississippi with a vengeance in October 2020, pushed her over a bit, but she managed to hang on without collapse, unlike the oak next to her. The deceased oak's name is Elon. Like a Greek tragedy hero, Elon saw to it to fall on Pisa's roots to provide just enough pressure to keep her from going over. Pisa's leaning posture gives the impression that she is watching over the 2 gopher tortoises, Clay and Sandy, who live in the ground below.

Pisa was special even before Hurricane Zeta. She was struck by lightning some years back and lived to tell the story. Most all trees perish, especially pines, after taking a direct hit. Pisa made the death-after-lightning rule not always the rule. She stood tall with great vitality since the strike. Her bark shows the streaking scars going down her trunk, and the prominent wounds are a source of pride. Now she has survived a third devastating hurricane, with the 3 hurricanes being Frederick (1979), Katrina (2005), and Zeta (2020). As a result, Pisa has a message for us all: "If you suffer electrocution, wind damage, and existence as a shortleaf in a longleaf world--keep your cones intact and get on with it. In addition, she says, "Accept the sacrifices of others, even from other species. They do it for reasons biodiverse." Those who know Pisa respected her before Hurricane Zeta. Now the respect is intensified. Pisa gives literal meaning to Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In".

The shortleaf pine named Pisa leaning after being pushed by the winds of Hurricane Zeta. Notice the lightning scars at top and bottom. Pisa has been through it.

Elon the Oak is seen lying deceased and prostrate atop the lateral roots of Pisa. That extra downward pressure was just enough to allow Pisa to be able to see another hurricane one day. It is a story of biodiverse love.