California has the Redwoods. Utah and Nevada have the Joshua Trees. In Louisiana, we have three iconic trees— the Magnolia, the Cypress and the Live Oak. We get so used to seeing them that only the most exceptional example tends to impress us. But, when they are bearded in Spanish Moss, they really stand out.
I was always told that the Spanish Moss was a leading indicator of air quality. It derives most of its nutrients from airborne particles, so when the air quality drops, the Spanish Moss dies. There are pictures of my parent’s house (in the heart of Baton Rouge) from when my Dad was a child and all of the trees appear covered in the moss. Today there is very little to be found in the city of Baton Rouge, but it is making a come back.
I don’t know enough to say if pollution is the primary culprit in the disappearance of Spanish Moss. Little boys grabbing hunks of the stuff to drape over their heads or menace future girlfriends with seem to be an equally plausible possibility. The almost total disappearance of the stuff and then its slow re-emergence since the days when you can no longer regularly smell the petrochemical plants may be coincidental. I kind of doubt it, but I am not a scientist. I’ll leave the facts of that up to more qualified people, like Batman.
Anyway, yesterday was a spectacular day for photography and I tried to take full advantage of it. Lots of check marks were added to master shot list. Tragically, a lot of southern Livingston Parish took several feet of water from Tropical Storm Lee. You could see it backed up in every bayou you drove over. So, I stuck to the northern part of the parish.
While out at Carter Plantation, a retreat center and golf community near Springfield, I came across some very nice examples of Live Oaks draped in their wispy epiphyte, Spanish Moss. The sun was getting high in the sky so I opted for the Lensbaby to create a more Impressionistic photograph that I later rendered as super high contrast in post-processing with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.0. South Carolina has A Palm Tree and crescent moon on their redesigned flag. For my money, the Live Oak, weeping with Tillandsia usneoides could be heraldic icon of the state of Louisiana. They do make a lovely pair.