I received an invitation for an exhibition back in December. After brainstorming for a while, I decided to work on the topic of trees. I accidentally found that the oldest tree in Taipei, planted in 1694, is in the neighborhood of my school. Prompted by curiosity, Huiling and I embarked on the trip of looking for the Formosan Sweet Gum.
Though the location of the tree, according to some blogs, seems to be easily found, but we were at a loss when we turned into lane 159 from the 4th section of Muzha Road. We inquired about it, but even the guard working right there said he had never heard about the tree. Meanwhile, I had another address indicating that the tree should be in the 149th lane, so we turned that way without any skepticism. The residents tried to help us out and pointed to a hill, believing that's where the tree might be. As we were about to go up, a couple in front of us kept turning back cautiously. They asked us where we wanted to go. We told them about our intention. To our surprise, they answered, "Oh, we've only got an Acacia tree." I couldn't help thinking, "What? You own a hill?" We then followed them to their red-brick house at the hilltop. Again they showed us the two longan trees in front of the house, wondering if they could be the trees we were looking for. Although we didn't find the sweet gum tree, it was an unforgettable experience to have met the couple.
Right when I was about to give up, Meiyen contacted our ex-colleague who is now working in Bo-jia Elementary School. It turned out that her colleague does know about the tree. The following week, we climbed up the steep path from lane 159 by car. Voila, there was the oldest tree in the city, in front of my eyes. I was moved beyond description.
I tried to take photos of the tree from different angles. If it could talk, what would it say? It has witnessed the city's change over the course of more than 300 years. I bet there must be loads of stories to tell.
Our guide told us that the asphalt road leading to the tree was constructed because of it, but to keep everything natural, there are no blatant signs. And in fact, the tree fell sick once. Fortunately, the tree doctors cured it of the disease. When he said that the tree is obviously more beautiful in fall and spring, I said, "I think it's also beautiful now!"
In fact, before I set out to look for the tree for the first time, the exhibition was cancelled for some unknown reason, but I thus encountered the oldest tree in the city. How lucky I am....