By Lee Scott
There is a scene in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy and the Scarecrow are walking along the Yellow Brick Road and notice some apple trees. As they start to pick apples, one of the apple trees comes to life and begins yelling from his huge round mouth. The tree, if you recall, has a tangled trunk making it look even more gruesome, and the long limbs become arms hurling apples at Dorothy and the Scarecrow as they escape.
I can relate to this scene when my own trees come to life during some of our thunderstorms here in the Lowcountry. The storms are so vibrant, with the sound of thunder reverberating through the creeks and marshes. Occasionally, at night, during one of these very nasty downpours, I find myself watching the live oak trees in my backyard. There is something almost mystical as I sit mesmerized by it all. When the lightning strikes, I notice the trees wave their arms at me, and the holes — where limbs once existed — suddenly look like eyes and a mouth.
But my trees look even scarier than those apple trees. The long limbs hang out over the yard and appear to move as the hanging Spanish moss starts to sway. I can almost hear the trees pulling up out of their roots and walking toward me. It dawns on me, I am glad I’m not a child because I would be petrified. Still, I move closer to my spouse in bed as the cracks of thunder shake the house and the room lights up with the approaching trees. Why can’t our dog hear or sense the trees advancing? Doesn’t she know one a gnarled limb is going to break the window, reach in, and grab me? No, she just lies there in her bed, oblivious to my fears.
There are other times when the trees come alive during a storm, especially when I am driving on certain streets out on the Sea Islands. The oak trees bend over the roads with their long branches and the moss looks like tentacles reaching out to grab me. The rain and headlights only make it worse by reflecting the shadows of waving arms.
It is after a good storm, I find myself studying the largest live oak in my yard. The tree’s mouth is merely the gaping hole left from a fallen rotted limb. The beady eyes, so menacing the night before, are only knobs in the wood.
Seeing these majestic trees up close makes me realize how much I love the live oaks here, despite their stormy transformations, and I am grateful that I do not have to worry about the apples.