Bahrain's Tree of Life
Updated: Apr 7
An inexplicable existence.
In the middle of a dollop of sand that is the tiny desert island of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, lounges a large tree. It does not stand as a tree would, no it lounges in its own sea of dust with long thick branches sprawling out in all directions and a canopy of green leaves providing the only shade available. There isn't a drop of water in sight. Fine dust masquerades as soil and even it attempts to leave this arid existence clinging to the clothes of any passing being. But not the tree, the tree likes it here. It's been here for at least 400 years and it has no current plans to leave.
Each thick branch is still full of life and the trunk, despite sustaining exploratory dendrochronology, maintains a solid existence. Despite much theorizing, selective digging and expert scrutiny, no one has been able to detect the water source that feeds this tree. Naturally, in response, the locals have produced compelling tales of witchcraft, sorcery and ghosts which, with the appropriate amount of heat stroke, become quite persuasive.
A newly built perimeter wall around the site keeps the present day oil diggers at bay. Their shoddy tents and plumes of smoke are the only other temporary inhabitants of this landscape.
At some point in Bahrain's history, there was a minor hurried settlement around the tree. Its broken remains add an appropriate flavour of doom to the scene. Who where these people and why did they leave? Sadly, we have but foundational bricks and part of a pot which isn't quite enough to produce even a pamphlet of educational material.
Is it worth the 45 minute drive out of Manama city centre? Only if you've run out of things to do, or are really really into Dendrology. In which case I shall mention that the informational plaques claim that this species of Prosopis cineraria is from North America.
That can only mean that some dope Kelly Slater of tree seeds rode a gust of wind across the Atlantic to plant itself in the Arabian desert and colonize a new world.
If you thought this post was going to be about an elixir of youth, I apologize.