Visions of the bombax tree that grew in the front yard of our Key West house have been dancing in my head. It was unique. Only two others lived on the island.

Tall, it had a large canopy that shaded the entire front yard and provided welcome and lovely protection from the sun’s rays. We used to picnic under the cool spread of its branches.


In the spring and summer it was covered with large scarlet flowers. These blooms had a sap-filled bowl at the base. They did not cling to the branches for long. They were so heavy, they dropped like wet balloons. Many summer nights I awoke due to a soggy “plunk” blooms made as they hit the roof.

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers nested in the tree and gorged on the sap. Tourists stopped in our street to take photos of the glorious tree in bloom. But, soon the yard became a carpet of the fallen blooms.

The bombax was lovely even in winter. Its bare branches etched against the sky like raku-glazed pottery.

Sadly, the tree’s large canopy proved to be its undoing. Hurricane Georges blew through Key West as a category two. The storm’s winds caught the branches and torqued the tree right out of the ground. It was an amazing sight.

Happily, the trunk fell away from the house and took out the fence instead. It left behind a gaping hole in the yard and an imprint on my soul.

Here’s an ode to its beauty.

(To be sung to “O Tannenbaum”!)

Ode to the beautiful bombax tree, felled by Hurricane Georges, September 1998

O bombax tree, O bombax tree

How shiny are your blossoms!

So waxy red and filled with sap,

They hit the roof and make a


O bombax tree, O bombax tree

Nestlings romp your branches.

O bombax tree, O bombax tree

A haven for the birds are thee.

Sapsuckers feast upon your


Flitter and chat as they consume.

O bombax tree, O bombax tree

We picnic in your cool shade.

O bombax tree, O bombax tree

Roses flourish in your umbra.

Your scarlet petals cloak the


Yet you were felled by Georges’


O bombax tree, O bombax tree

I miss you still, my old friend.

Liz/Moascar (Nov. ‘14) adds, “My son Josh stayed with me again last weekend and we went paddle-boarding. So much fun! I even stayed upright.”

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