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Monday, April 21, 2014

Requiem for an Oak Tree

Angel Oak Tree
I walk to work, and I am alone. I love nature. I pass many trees. I become attached.

Just in the past year, I discovered a magnificent oak that stands just off my beaten path. I altered my path in order to walk under this oak.

It is magnificent ("It is" in my memory, still present tense.) Lush, powerful, sheltering, sculpted, manly in the best way, womanly in the best way.

"My" oak tree was cut down today, Wednesday, April 16th. I stopped my commute on foot. I stood and I watched, sobs choking in my throat. I wanted to stand there giving the bastards the finger with both hands, but they were doing dangerous work with massive, noisy machines – power saws, wood chippers – and I did not want to kill them, as they were killing my hero, this oak tree.

I will never forget this tree, or stop being grateful to it. If nothing else, as I was walking past its corpse, I thought, for more than a few minutes, whether or not trees have souls. I thought that for this tree.


I posted the above message on Facebook last week after seeing the oak tree cut down. I was deeply moved by how many people responded.

Katie Lynch wrote, "If only trees could talk…the story they could tell of all the things they have witnessed over all the years they have been alive. Watching all the changes that took place in the world, from dirt paths and horse-drawn buggies to major four-lane highways with super-fast cars... There are witness trees in the battle fields of Gettysburg, and Saratoga, trees that witnessed the stories of all the families who lived in the old houses they shade, majestic oaks on the Southern Plantations that witnessed Slavery... Just imagine the stories they could tell if only trees could talk…

I have a giant one oak overlooking my back yard and when I sit out there in the summer, those are my thoughts, of all the things that tree has seen and all the changes that have come since it was a little seedling."

Dina Coldrick wrote, "I have a dozen beautiful live house plants in my home. One palm in particular I bought as soon as I got my first apartment ... she's still with me 25 years later!!!!! Thank God she can't talk!" Dina mentioned a photography book, "Trees and Things," that includes photos of "mutilated" trees.

Carol Moessinger wrote, "A nondescript tree stood sentry on the corner up the street. It was tall and the wind had caused it to sway then lean in one direction as though its branches were in supplication to the Great Mystery. I almost cried when I came home one day and the tree was nothing more than chunks of firewood and kindling."

Sandy, Sandra, Vivian, Ellen, Anna, Malgorzata, and other friends posted supportive and caring messages.

Rusty Walker posted his painting of an oak, along with a poem.

Weathered Oak, You and Me
by Rusty Walker

Twisted oak, reach high, bow low,
Lived long enough to see you go;

I met you when you were a sprig,
So small was I, you were so big.

As older age twists you and me,
I turn a leaf, your leaves fall free.

Too much sun, too little rain,
Both you and I do weather the strain.

Only in hearts and minds in the end,
If you should go, as I, my friend.

Rusty Walker
Napa Oak Tree
I googled the phrase "Requiem for an Oak" and found this text:

"Hearts were once built of it. Three thousand
Trees went into Billy Ruffian, before
Steam and steel ruled. Wine was once
Brewed of it; sows grew fat on pannage.
Now, we picture it, pixel it and Flickr it,
Knowing well, Napoleon went down before it,
Robin Hood took shelter under it,
The Green Man glowered through it,
And cavemen hollowed boats in the bole
Of it. Will we let it wither, like an English
Elm, beetle-bored and riddled? Oaks
Send no suckers to sustain them. Science
Sees the riddle: could solve it.

Will we let it?"

Source of the above text is here.

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