Beaufort, South Carolina

Day 14

      In our travels south this is the first place we encountered Spanish Moss, an air feeding plant or epiphyteIt, that grows hanging from tree branches. It absorbs nutrients from the air and rain. It use to be called an air plant.

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     Where did Spanish Moss come from you ask? Well, I am glad to tell you:

     We are in the Beaufort area of South Carolina, where, according to legend, is where Spanish moss originated way before the English settlers arrived in the 1600’s.

     In an Indian village, not far from where I am standing,  a Spanish soldier fell in love at first sight with an Indian chief’s favorite daughter. Though the chieftain forbade the couple to see each other, the Spaniard was too love struck to stop meeting the maiden in secret. The father found them out and ordered his braves to tie the Spaniard high up in the top of an ancient oak tree. The Spaniard had only to disavow his love to be freed, but he steadfastly refused. Guards were posted to keep anyone — the chief’s daughter above all — from giving food or water to the poor Spaniard.

     The Spaniard grew weaker and weaker, but he still would not renounce his love for the girl. Near the end, the Chief tried to persuade him once more to stay away from his daughter. The Spaniard answered that not only would he refuse to disavow his love, but that his love would continue to grow even after death. When at last the Spaniard died, the chief kept the body tied up in the tree as a warning to any other would-be suitors.

     Before long, the Indians began to notice that the Spaniard’s beard continued to grow. The Indian maiden refused ever to take a husband — unless the Spaniard’s beard died and vanished from the tree. As the years went by, the beard only grew stronger and longer, covering trees far from the Indian maiden’s village. Legend says that when the Spanish Moss is gone, the Spaniard’s love will have finally died with it.

     And now you know the rest of the story.

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