Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Old Oaks

There is a huge old oak tree in our backyard. One of our neighbors believes it to be the oldest in the neighborhood. I don't doubt it. I'd estimate it to be nearly twenty-five feet in diameter (OOPS! I mean circumference, duh--edited 10-21-10) at the base. From there three huge trunks heave upward casting a seemingly infinite number of branches into the sky. I'd show you a picture, but I simply can't get it all in one shot. It is majestic, the gnarled branches continuously curling to the mathematical beauty of the Fibonacci number.

I have almost always lived among oak trees. Growing up, in my hometown, there were a number of them you would come upon growing in the middle of the road, their lower trunks painted white. You just don't take down an oak without good reason, not even for a street. Every now and then, when I return, I will notice one is missing. It always feels like a loss.

Old oak trees are such old souls, I think. I often wonder what our backyard ancient has seen in his long years. Did Native Americans find shelter under his branches? Collect his acorns?

Once, when I was a teacher living far from my childhood home, my dad sent me a few acorns which had sprouted saplings--slender stems with pairs of leaves. Ever the science teacher, he sent them so I could show my students. I remember getting teary-eyed and choked up as I presented them to my first graders. They didn't understand the significance of the acorns having fallen from the two large oaks that anchored two sides of the backyard at my parents' house.

I could go on and on waxing melancholy over all the memories I have associated with oak trees, making me ache for other places and times...

But I have to go pick Valerie up from her Girl Scout meeting, and get there early enough so that Andrew can play at the park first.


  1. Kids have a way of bringing us back to the present, don't they? :o)

  2. I love old trees too. We have a huge one in our back yard that we have been trying to save. If it ever has to come down it will be devestating ... and hot (no shade!)

  3. Sara, I love your photo and your writing! You didn't know that I am obsessed with oak trees--I have a whole photo album of just oak trees. Larry and I go to a place in Malibu Canyon called Rocky Oaks Park. No one is ever there but us! There is an ancient grove of oaks with some hidden picnic tables the we love to visit. One of my favorite places!

  4. Tuolumne County, California, the western side, is covered with rolling hills and enormous oaks...
    I got to commune with them last weekend... Talk about your old soul feeling... Phew. It was amazing~!

  5. How can Oak trees be so massive and beautiful by day....
    yet so scary at night, when they reflect your headlights in the dark??

  6. What a great story -- and that's an amazing tree. I love oaks, but this year I have been pelted by all the falling acorns. We were up at our camp and I was raking and I thought I was under attack.