The Life of An Oak Tree

For 80 or 90 years– probably even longer– the jumble of logs in the photographs had been a beautiful oak that lived at the end of our driveway next to the road.  This magnificent creature had been the home of countless squirrels, insects and birds, especially ravens and crows, who for some corvid reason, seemed especially attracted to it. It also gave shade and comfort to generations of humans equally– to the good, the bad, the in-between.

In February it lost a thick limb to snow and wind, but it wasn’t until the end of March that I noticed that a large sheath of bark had separated from the trunk. Then two weeks ago, Curtis Roberts, an arborist, told me that during its long life it had gradually developed rot in its roots. His knife probed into the trunk where the bark been as easily as if the wood had been a sponge.

Curtis and his crew felled the oak on Monday and yesterday, his colleague Forrest ground what was left of the stump into bits so that we can plant another tree there. Next week I’ll split the wood and stack it in the bins in the back yard by the toolshed.

I don’t know about the crows and ravens, but I miss the oak already. And I think: the only good thing to come out of all this is that when winter returns, and during the winters after that, every time I carry a load of its wood into the house I’ll thank the tree for the last act of its life– keeping us human beings warm in our home until Spring.

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