Tree carvings often conjure up romantic images of J ♡ B or J + B Forever. I must confess I find them pretty…when done in moderation. There is something picturesque about hiking through the woods or walking by a lake and stumbling upon a lone declaration of love. When was this done? Who carved this? Did the sweethearts stay together? Did they live nearby? How old were they? Endless questions because of a small carving. It’s powerful.
But what about when the carvings turn into graffiti or simply “tagging”?
The Banyan Tree in Lahaina, Hawaii is a magnificent landmark and found on almost any “Maui must-see list”. Under its limbs, there have been luaus, concerts, picnics, and refuge for those seeking shade. The town loves it so much they celebrate the tree‘s birthday every April. It is hard to imagine the now 50-foot tall tree (with 12 major trunks) was once only 8 feet tall when planted by Maui sheriff William O. Smith in 1873. It now covers 2/3 of an acre and shades Courthouse Square.
While the tree has spread out beautifully, if you look at it now, it is covered with markings.
The result is heartbreaking. There is bark chipped away everywhere you look, making the tree vulnerable from the exposure. People that love the tree are effectively (and without thinking) hurting it by wanting to give the tree even more special meaning to themselves.
Photos © Joelle Pittman