Seven Natural Wonders of the World Part 1
About the seven natural wonders of the world, wonders found specifically in nature, in this case, Methusale Grove of ancient trees.
The 7 Natural Wonders of the World
Surrounded by a seemingly endless abundance of natural beauty, the ancients, much like ourselves, often ignored the natural world. Except possibly for the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis at Babylon, even Antipater's proverbial 7 wonders of the Alexandrian era celebrated the works of man rather than nature. Antipater's list, compiled in the 2nd century, included the Egyptian pyramids, the Olympian statue of Zeus, the temple of Artemis, the mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus at Rhodes, the lighthouse of Alexandria, and the fabled Walls of Babylon. Excluding the pyramids, not one remains today, whereas, unless they "make way for civilization," many of the natural wonders Antipater missed seeing will endure for centuries to come. In North America, especially in the western U.S., nature has been prodigal of superlatives and nowhere can this be better seen than in our great and grandiose plants, whose size and age are unequaled anywhere else on earth. These are sights every traveler should make a point to see.
When Antipater compiled his list, for example, the bristlecone pines in California's Iyno National Forest were already thousands of years old. The oldest Pinus arista, or "living driftwood," as the bristlecones have aptly been called, has endured for more than 4,800 years on the high windswept slopes of the White Mountains northeast of Bishop, Calif. Named "Methuselah" or "Great-granddad Pickaback," and with its birth dating back to c. 2900 B.C., this venerable bristlecone is found in the Methuselah Grove, where many of the other trees approach it in age. There is no doubt that the Methuselah Grove contains the oldest living things on earth, trees that were growing before Moses received the Ten Commandments. Amazingly, these trees still produce seed from which new trees can grow. All the bristlecones hold tenaciously to life. Gnarled, burled, and bent, the epitome of the strange beauty that comes from age and suffering, they endure at elevations up to 11,000' on an arid limestone soil totally unsuitable for most plants. Wind, fire, and ice have sculpted these trees through the ages, and so fierce is their will to live that they are sometimes found, roots mostly bared, growing almost parallel to the ground, as if praying for one more tomorrow. Most grow at the rate of only one inch in diameter every century, and although great sections of the knotted giants are dead, when bristlecones partially die, the reduced living portion stands a better chance against low precipitation and other extremes of weather.
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