Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thinking Baobab Tree for book cover design !

Scatterlings- A Tapestry of    
Afri-Expat Tales   
By eve hemming  

I am now thinking a Baobab Tree Design for the book cover... how iconic is that ?  "Truth is like a baobab tree; one person's arms cannot embrace it" (African proverb)
An Africa tree is symbolic and powerful... we all have our roots in Africa... the branches are over arching and reach out to far away lands..... The Tree has seasons, cycles, shade, protection, sustenance. It brings cherished memories of tree climbing as children, of the sweet fruit we bit into in Africa....
One of my all time favourite childhood books was 'The Faraway Tree'....and as a child living on a Freestate farm, I had a secret favourite tall tree that I would climb - high up into its branches to peer down at the boundaries of my world. I felt like an omnipotent being! Far below the garden and lawn nestling around the sturdy homestead, stretched out below me. The house, heavy in its sand stone with red corrugated iron roof, parked its weight on the African earth.  Frisky, our fox terrier, seemed to be chasing his shadow. African voices sang in lilted tones as they went about tending to this and that. The drone of the faraway tractor, out of sight on the escarpment, could be heard through the filigreed leaves that brushed against my face. Always the rooster crowing on cue...Those are moments that remain frozen in time and unadulterated delight... 
 and later a mother's call...'Evie Pie ... ! Where are you ?' 

The Baobab Tree

"The Baobab Tree is a symbol of the strength of Africa. There are any myths and legends about the Baobab Tree and it is revered for its healing properties. The most common myth is that the gods in error, planted the Baobab tree upside, hence its strange shape."

BAO-BAB TREE is the story of a beautiful tree who complained to the GREAT SPIRIT of the WILD PLAINS about wanting to be the BEST and BRIGHTEST and most HANDSOME of all the African trees. The GREAT SPIRIT became tired of the complaints, and reached down from the sky, yanked the tree out of the ground and placed it back into the earth UPSIDE DOWN! All the animals were alarmed, and so was the huge tree. For after that, the magnificent tree only grew leaves once a year. The other months the ROOTS seemed to bend and grow towards the sky...The baobab looks like this for a reason. In the wet months water is stored in its thick, corky, fire-resistant trunk for the nine dry months ahead. The baobab's bark, leaves, fruit, and trunk are all used. The bark of the baobab is used for cloth and rope, the leaves for condiments and medicines, while the fruit, called "monkey bread," is eaten. Sometimes people live inside of the huge trunks, and bush-babies live in the crown...". Bobby Dooley Hunter. 

"The Baobab – Africa's Giant Upsidedown Tree"

Legendary tree of life, the giant baobab is

 a standout star 

 of the African bush 

Baobab tree at Musina (c) Graeme Williams/MediaClubSouthAfricaFrom .

There are eight species of Adansonia tree, but only one baobab tree (Adansonia digitata), native to the African mainland. Six of its relatives live in Madagascar and one in Australia. It is a tiny - and very distinctive family. The baobab itself is anything but tiny. 
This is the monster of the African bush, a vast fleshy giant which looms over the acacia scrubland waving its Medusa -like branches above a bulbous body.
Baobabs only grow below 1000m (3,000 ft) in tropical so are found in the South African lowveld - in Limpopo province, particularly around Musina, in the Kruger Park & northern Kwazulu-Natal
Some of the oldest are said to be well over 2000 years old.
The Sunland Baobab
Baobabs can reach heights of up to 30m (98 ft). The largest ever recorded, in Limpopo, South Africa, the Glencoe, had a diameter of 47m (154ft) before it split in two. The largest in                existence now is thought to be the Sunland Baobab, in Modjadjiskloof, Limpopo, has a height of 22m (72 ft) and a diameter of 47m (154 ft). Since fires have hollowed out  parts of the trunk, the owners have turned into a bar and wine cellar.Carbon dated at around 6,000 years old,this has a claim to be possibly the oldest living tree in the world ! Elsewhere those with hollow trunks have been used as burial sites and the trees have become sacred. In many places, the enduring giant trees became a symbol of community, a place of gathering.
The Tree of Life
The Baobab is also incredibly useful - so much so that Disney's Lion King named it the 
Tree of Life. It behaves like a giant succulent and up to 80% of the trunk is water.San nomads used to rely on the trees as a valuable source of water when the rains failed and the rivers dried. A single tree can hold up to 4,500 litres (1,189 gallons). The bark and flesh are soft, fibrous and fire-resistant and can be used to weave rope and cloth. It is also used to make soap, rubber, glue and various medicines.
The fruit, which looks like a velvety gourd, is filled with big black seeds surrounded by tart cream, slightly powdery pulp. For years the Africans have eaten both the leaves and fruit which is also known as monkey bread. Now it is being hailed by Westerners as a new superfruit. It is said to have six times the Vitamin C levels of an orange as well as vitamin A, twice the amount of calcium of milk and be stuffed with antioxidants such as iron and potassium. It is said to be pro-biotic, good for digestion, brain and nerve function. The seeds can be roasted, and the flesh sliced or diced and cooked in a variety of ways. So far, however, the pulp is mainly being used in smoothies, as a thickener or sugar substitute. In the UK, Whitley Neill are adding it to gin!
There are many stories and traditions surrounding the baobab. The most prevalent is that the tree was lording it over lesser plants and so offended God, who uprooted it and planted it again upsidedown to stop it boasting. It remains in leaf for only a very short time each year and if you look at its branches bare of leaves, its easy to see how the legend grew.
The Order of the Baobab is a South African National Order, instituted in 2002, awarded to citizens for distinguished service in the fields of Business and the economy; Science, medicine and technological innovation; or Community service...."
As migrants from Africa, we are in
essence upsidedown, changing our day to 
night or our Summer to Winter...turning
our souls inside out and adapting...
wherever we re-root!

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