Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/186

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

novel spectacle. It is certainly something out of the common to see a gigantic tree, with a trunk five or six feet in diameter and eighty or ninety feet high, and sending out limbs as long and massive as an oak, yet hearing flowers like a rose bush. These

PSM V45 D186 Gathering bananas.jpg
Fig. 6.—Gathering Bananas.

flowers are rich and variegated in color, but chiefly of a bright carnation. Viewed from beneath, they are scarcely visible; the fragrance is overpowering, and the ground is carpeted with their gay leaves and delicate petals. When seen from a little distance, the ceiba tree in bloom is one of the most splendid productions of Nature—a huge and brilliant bouquet, requiring a whole forest to supply the contrasting green. The wood of the ceiba is easily worked, and, moreover, is light and buoyant and not liable to split by exposure to the sun. It is these qualities which make it so valuable for building the different varieties of boats required on the coast. The boats are usually sent from the interior in a rough and partly finished condition, being simply dug out, the outside being left to be finished according to the taste and fancy of the future owner. The boats are commonly fifteen or twenty feet long and about two feet wide, but it is not unusual to meet them of much larger dimensions, sometimes reaching even the great length of one hundred feet. The ends rise gracefully from