Up until recently, there was a big old oak tree out in my front yard. It was very old.
I literally grew up and old with this tree watching over me for the past 52 years. I have so many wonderful memories tied to that tree. I wrote a little reminiscence about the tree a few years ago. I was attached to the old fellow. Unfortunately, he’s gone now.
This is all the city tree crew left of him recently. The tree had been dropping some rather large branches over the last couple years during some of our normal summertime afternoon thundershowers. The tree is on city easement, which means it’s their responsibility and liability should something happen to injure someone or damage something. Back in September, the city forester came by and inspected the tree. He condemned it at that time. I tried my best to appeal, but they weren’t going to budge.
I lost my old friend on my father’s birthday (11 March), just a couple weeks ago.
Sure. “It’s just a tree,” some of you are saying. Well, that’s true. It was a tree, but it was one that was practically a member of my family. I was born and raised in this house. I spent my childhood in the shade of that tree, as did my older brother, and many, many of our neighborhood friends. When I was little, the neighbors and my parents would bring over lawn chairs and sit out under that tree till late in the evenings talking and laughing while the children played around them. It was a different world back then. Sadly, that world is as gone as my old oak is.
When the forester was here on that day back in September, he told me about something the city had going called “The Tree-mendous Community Tree Program.” The city will, at no cost to the homeowner, plant one tree per lot on the city easement at the request of the homeowner. It’s a program with the aim of beautifying and enhancing neighborhoods by planting new shade trees. He gave me a link to their website where I could check out the choice of trees they offer and set up a appointment to have someone come out and talk with me about it. So, that’s what I did.
Initially, I wanted a nice fast-growing red maple, but the fellow who came out to talk to me talked me out of it for two reasons: they weren’t happy with the quality of the red maples they were getting from their current contractor and because they removed a laurel oak, they would prefer that I choose a live oak to replace it. The idea is to keep the neighborhood’s tree personality intact, so to speak. Laurel oaks are pretty, but they’re not as sturdy or as long-lived as live oaks. Unfortunately, live oaks don’t grow that fast.
I figured, if I wasn’t around long enough to enjoy the live oak, maybe some other folks after me will appreciate its shade and beauty after I’m gone from this place. With that in mind, I went ahead and ordered the live oak from the city program. Daniel, the fellow who came out to talk with me placed a little white flag in the yard so the crew would know where to plant the tree. He told me they’d be back in a week or two.
Well, today was the day. I woke up this morning and the tree crew had come and gone already. They left me a new little guy out there in the front yard. They mulched him and propped him up. They even gave him his first tasty drink of water from my hose after planting him. He’s about 8′ tall with a trunk of 2.5″. Heh! Not quite a “grand oak” yet, but one day… one day. Here are a some pics of my new friend and the little reminder message they left on him:
In that center picture, you can see the stump of my old oak in the background. It’s kinda’ sad, but life doesn’t give up easily. When I walked over to look at the stump while out there snapping these shots, I noticed a tiny little baby oak growing out of the old stump. The city is supposed to come back and grind the stump down for me. I might just tell them to leave it alone.
Maybe one day, that wee little thing growing out of the stump will look like the might oak that once stood there and watched over me as I played under its storied boughs.