Regeneration is a powerful thing. The impulse to renew and regrow, to rise Phoenix-like from a heap of ashes, is not only a characteristic of life but of the Earth itself.
In August 1883, the Sunda Strait - between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra - was rocked by the most titanic explosion in recorded history, the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano. That eruption generated tsunamis and pyroclastic flows that killed over 36,000 people as well as a sound loud enough to be heard almost 3,000 miles away. The atmospheric pressure wave created by the explosion circled the planet seven times; the dust lofted into the stratosphere gave rise to several years of beautiful sunsets and noticeably cooler weather around the globe. A crater in the sea floor was all that was left to mark where a mighty mountain had once stood.
Beginning in late 1927, subsequent eruptions in the very same spot caused a new volcanic mountain to rear its head above the waves of the Sunda Strait. That new mountain - born of the Earth’s self-renewing impulse - was named Anak Krakatau: Son of Krakatoa.
I thought of Anak Krakatau while driving in - of all places! - eastern Tennessee. We had been visiting Eric and had driven past the place where once stood the mighty Kaboom Tree.
Ah, the Kaboom Tree! Formerly the location of many a wayward driver’s demise (owing to its strategic placement right next to a sharp curve in a narrow country road), the Kaboom Tree had been grievously injured by tornado winds a few years back. All that remained was a stump.
From that stump new life was a-sprouting, yet more evidence of life’s burning urge for self-renewal and regrowth.
New growth sprouts from the stump of the infamous Kaboom Tree.
As I looked at that improbable young sapling, I thought of Atlanta, great parts of which were burned to the ground during the Civil War and which, nearly 150 years later, is a thriving American metropolis. It is not surprising that the city motto is Resurgens: rising again. And I thought of Anak Krakatau, heaving itself up from the ocean floor where its mighty predecessor once stood.
What else to call that sapling but Anak Kaboom?
And who knows but that, a century hence, Anak Kaboom will stand astride that country lane, grown tall and thick of trunk, there to terrify new generations of McMinn County drivers?