They’re going to cut down our oak tree in a few days. The order has been given. She’s over a hundred years old. And, one day soon, the chain saws will dig in and take her apart.
The man with the saw and the bucket truck says it’s going to take two days to take her down and haul her away.
It breaks my heart. Worst of all, I’m going to be out of town. That’s another pain for me to suffer.
We knew the time was near. Like a favorite pet. We knew something was wrong. The oak tree in our back yard started to change. A limb or two fell every year. Then a few more every year. The tree surgeon came and looked at her ten years ago.
Like a doctor, he walked around it, examined, poked and prodded. He gave us the bad news. “She should last a few more years, but she’s already started to die. She’ll lose a few more limbs each year. She’s dying.”
This spring, there were no leaves. The small branches were dry and brittle. A big limb, longer than my truck fell one night. The ghost of our oak tree is gone.
Let me tell you about this big old tree in our back yard. It’s one of those huge Pin Oak trees. She’s over one hundred and twenty feet tall. Her branches are two and three feet thick. The trunk, at eye level, is close to six feet in diameter. Huge!
Once upon a time, she stood in the middle of a pasture. She was a shade tree, even then. When they built the house, suddenly the tree was in the back yard.
She’s a big tree. A proud tree. A grand tree. One of kind.
We fell in love with the tree when we bought the place in 2002. We sat under its limbs, cooled off in the shade she gave us, contemplated good news and bad news.
I knew the girls who grew up in the house before we owned it. They played in her shade. My granddaughters played in the shade also. Generations.
I sat there in its shadow and cried like a baby when my father died and I had to come to grips with living without him. My wife did the same thing when her father died. Maybe there’s a connection between big oak trees and our fathers. Both are strong, both are supposed to be around forever. Both get old and die.
I leaned against her the day Hurricane Katrina blew through town. Eight trees were down in our yard. That old oak tree just shook off Katrina’s winds, gave up a couple of small limbs and laughed at us all. Like a mother, protecting her children.
I’d bet a thousand squirrels and red-headed woodpeckers made their home in its top most branches. In winter, I put out bird feed. The squirrels made their way down the trunk, head first, then across the brick patio to feast on birdseed. With the slightest noise, they scampered back to the tree. She was refuge and safety for them.
Early in the mornings, I’d take my coffee on the back porch, watching the same family of squirrels chase each other across her limbs and branches.
It’s ironic, we’re leaving town, moving two hundred miles away. The “For Sale” sign is in the front yard.
Maybe it’s just time for the tree to leave also.
Good-bye my old friend.
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