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Special Event

Millennium 2000: 1,000 Years is No Time At All to Ancient Trees in London

Aired January 1, 2000 - 6:26 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We people tend to put things like the passing of a millennium in sharp focus. We celebrate, contemplate, even worry a bit, sometimes worry a lot. After all, it's something that happens only once every 1,000 years. A big deal? Perhaps not to all living things, as CNN's Richard Blystone found out when he considered one very old tree.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ho hum. Another millennium. The great yew at Crowhurst, south of London, has seen four millennia come and go. So say the botanists: 4,000 winters, 4,000 summers, already ancient in the time of Jesus, let alone when this old church was built.

What are you doing for the millennium? Humans ask each other. The honest answer: I don't know. Going to be dead for most of it.

But England's veteran trees, like these oaks near Windsor Castle, will stand when our season is long gone, charting the chronicles of sun and rain in their rings, indifferent to the turning of human pages if short-lived, short-sighted mankind gives them the same break they give others.

Crowhurst's great yew is partly dead. The core where its infant sapling grew vacant these many centuries. Yet, at the same time bursting with life, its own and those of its guests, from birds to bugs. Foresters tell us the hollow's a survival strategy. Resilience against the tens of thousands of gales and icestorms a tree has to cope with in the long haul. A lesson here for an age obsessed with style and surface.

(on camera): Nowadays, for people who can eat fresh strawberries or funny lettuce all year round, listen to Gregorian chants one minute and rock 'n' roll the next, all the fashions of all the eras seem to coexist. But not here.

(voice-over): Around here there is one fashion that never changes. Green is the new green. The tree knows what it will be wearing next year.

Richard Blystone, CNN, Crowhurst, England.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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