On our mountain there are a good many trees that
nature bent. We are up high enough that
we have a regular breeze in the summer and a bit of wind in the winter. There is a special project not too far from
here celebrating some bent trees that nature did not shape, rather Native
Americans and the Cherokee used them as trail markers.
Imagine a scene back in time, more than 200 years ago, when a young Cherokee Indian might be found striding quietly through the dense wilderness of North Georgia. He might be in search of water, a sacred burial site, or perhaps even a specific kind of medicinal plant. This young Cherokee could only rely on nature to guide him. For him, the trees could speak. The young poplars and supple white and red oaks, species that can live hundreds of years, spoke the language of his forefathers. Saplings would be bent parallel to the ground and tied down, the crook sometimes being formed with a yoke or Y-shaped branch. A year or so later, the trees would be trained upward and tied off so that the leader pointed upward. If a branch or shoot had begun growing vertically, the leader would be cut off, creating a “nose” that is one of the bent tree’s distinctive features. Researchers believe the Cherokee shaped the trees to form a system of signs pointing to things that hunters, gatherers and warriors needed on journeys that could entail hundreds of miles. Working with nature, by doing something as simple as bending a tree to show the way, left little to no impact on their world but had a huge impact on the ability to travel swiftly along very long passages.