August 12, 2017

As a native of or visitor to Cedar Key, you have probably experienced the utterly magnificent live oak that surrounded the Wabi Sabi Cottage on E Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets. 

Wabi Sabi 567xe

Typical of aged, healthy live oaks in Florida, the huge, over 75-foot, rich, verdant canopy covered the Wabi Sabi Cottage, the lot itself, and a good portion of E Street, providing cool shade for passersby and lower electricity bills for shaded structures under and around it.

Indeed, some have called it "the lovliest of trees," "spectacular, dramatic", and consummately graceful."

According to Wes Langston of Langston Tree Service in Trenton, this grandfather live oak was at least two hundred years old.  The codominant trunk allowed the tree to grow, at its base, in two different directions.  One trunk grew west, toward E Street, and the other grew east, toward D Street.  As a codominant tree trunk, great stress focused upon the juncture at its base;  as the tree grew larger and heavier, stress increased.  Also, as codominant, the massive two-trunked tree had only one root system.

On August 5, 2017, Saturday evening or night, the west half of the huge Wai Sabi live oak split at its base and quietly lowered itself to the street.

WabiSabi 9241xe

On Monday, August 7, Langston cut and removed the west half massive oak, making way for traffic.  On Saturday, August 12, Langston cut and removed the east trunk of the live oak, unbalanced and weakened by the loss of its other half.

Cedar Keyan Ada Lang, the owner of the 98-year-old Wabi Sabi Cottage and live oak, chose the name Wabi Sabi because of the Japanese tradition regarding the accrptancer of transience and imperfection.  The weighty, yet consummately simple, philosophy is best explained by Robyn Griggs Lawrence in her September-October 2001 article in the Utne Reader.   Two paragraphs follow; the Utne link follows as well.



Wabi-Sabi: The Art Of Imperfection

          The Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi offers an inspiring

           new way to look at your home, and your whole life.

by Robyn Griggs Lawrence, from Natural Home

September-October 2001

According to Japanese legend, a young man named Sen no Rikyu sought to learn the elaborate set of customs known as the Way of Tea. He went to tea-master Takeeno Joo, who tested the younger man by asking him to tend the garden. Rikyu cleaned up debris and raked the ground until it was perfect, then scrutinized the immaculate garden. Before presenting his work to the master, he shook a cherry tree, causing a few flowers to spill randomly onto the ground.

To this day, the Japanese revere Rikyu as one who understood to his very core a deep cultural thread known as wabi-sabi.  Emerging in the 15th century as a reaction to the prevailing aesthetic of lavishness, ornamentation, and rich materials, wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all.  In Japan, the concept is now so deeply ingrained that it’s difficult to explain to Westerners; no direct translation exists.