The Lone Oak

img_0252img_0254

I became acquainted with the old bur oak tree near downtown Lexington, Kentucky, not as a child, but as a very young adult. It was something of a Lexington landmark and I think it deserves a story. Its own place in history. No doubt, according to the tree specialists, it had at least a couple of centuries of stories to tell since Lexington was settled in June of 1775 and this ancient tree was at least that old.
The bur oak was located right off Lafayette Parkway leading up to Lafayette High School. Barely out of our teens, my husband and I were hunting for our first house and our realtor showed us a rather decrepit small home with this magnificent tree in the backyard. I don’t know if we bought the house because of the house or because of the tree. It was astonishing. Spreading my arms as wide as I could, I still could not embrace its diameter.
I don’t know how tall it was but it was too tall for tree specialists to even contemplate taking it down back in the 1970s. Bur oaks often grow 200-300 feet tall. It was many feet in circumference. It shaded our entire home in the summer with its big, brawny limbs. Every other fall, it produced the most interesting acorns and gallons of them. These trees produce the largest acorns of any oak tree and they often were the preferred food for bears, harkening back to another time in the history of the place where Lexington began.

Besides enjoying the fact that this special tree was in our newly-acquired back yard, it provided a conversation starting point with our neighbors on the aptly-named Lone Oak Street. Our neighbors were a couple old enough to be our grandparents and well-known Lexington residents, Fred and Lois Flege. We bonded over that tree. They took to us and we to them and they became like our family.
We lived on that street and under that tree, with the Flege’s as our neighbors, for many years. The tree developed dead limbs that we had to prune but we could bear to do no more than that. It was an important touchstone for us and for the Flege’s.
Shortly after we sold our house, the new owner took down the big tree. It had become dangerous. That tree will forever be a part of our memories of our early life in Lexington with our beloved neighbors, the Flege’s.
Years later, I moved to the town where I taught at the university and one day, I found a bur oak acorn in my front yard. There are no bur oak trees that I know of in this part of the Daniel Boone National Forest. I planted it. Maybe someday, long after I am gone, there will be another majestic bur oak tree in what used to be my yard. One of our best memories will always be the big bur oak tree standing in the middle of Lexington. #amwriting #amblogging #writing

 

#weekendcoffeeshare 7/23/2016

image

“Jenn,” I say, as my friend walks in my side door to join me for our #weeklycoffeeshare this Saturday morning, “you’ll never guess what happened this week.” Jenn automatically assumed something terrible. It was something sort of terrible, but also natural considering where I live. “What,” Jenn asked as we took our hot beverages out to my deck. When we got to my deck, Jenn didn’t have to wonder anymore. She could see for herself.

“Oh no, “Jenn exclaimed. “How did that happen?” Jenn was looking at the very large tree that had been the biggest and tallest tree in my backyard and was now lying, toppled over, and crushing our fence. You see, I live in the forest and my yard is filled with very tall, large trees. “It happened on Monday, “I explained. “I had Betsy outside in the early morning. We went in and I heard a huge crash. I looked out and the tree was lying on its side.” Betsy, by the way, is my dog. Some time, I want to blog about Betsy and her adventures.

The big tree had toppled over, fully uprooted. It was not knocked down by a storm. It was a bright, sunny day. It just….fell. Thankfully, it fell away from the house. For those who are not familiar with a hardwood forest in the Ohio River Valley, it is almost always a bit damp unless there is a serious drought which is not yet a common condition in this part of the U.S. We have had a lot of rain this year. The only thing we can figure out is that the ground was so wet, and it is clay soil, that the tree was literally pushed up out of the ground by a high water table. In the forest, we tend to get more rain than in other places. Forests play a key role in the water cycle process.

I love my forest surroundings though I always worry about the big trees so close to my house and the possibility of them falling. It’s healthy to live in the forest. Forests, the rustling of leaves, are soothing and peaceful to the human ear. Forests absorb more than 60% of the greenhouse gases in our environment. Not only do trees absorb carbon dioxide but they emit breathable oxygen for humans. Trees essentially fight climate change and clean the air.

Trees can cut air conditioning costs by 50% or more. They also conserve water because they protect lawns and lawn plantings. Trees even provide food…..think apple trees, pear trees. They also provide wood that can be burned for heat.

Trees provide a habitat for 70% of the world’s wildlife. Every animal serves a purpose and even dead and dying trees provide some function for these animals. Woodpeckers, for example, feed on dying trees in my yard.

I was sad to lose the big tree. It will provide firewood for a long time to come. The top, which fell into the woods, will provide shelter for wildlife. Now to get it out of our yard!  #weekendcoffeeshare #amwriting #blogging #writing #environment

#weekendcoffeeshare is brought to you by Diana at parttimemonsterblog.com