Lessons from an Oak

So an email came out over our community listserve that there was a big tree down blocking one of the paths behind the pump house. I was feeling a little frisky today and decided to go check it out. I packed the handsaw just in case, and my field notebook that I finished at the OBOD camp.

On the way across the parking lot, a bluejay was flitting along the tree line. The hike in seemed pretty long, even though I know for a fact it wasn’t that far. After a wrong turn and a re-tracing of my steps, I found the blocked path.

And it was a frickin’ oak. A motherloving red oak!

It took me about an hour to get the staff cut. I had to keep coming in at different angles since my saw really isn’t mean for anything more than a half inch in diameter, and this branch was at least an inch more than that. And, by the time I finished, I think I donated at least a quarter cup of blood to the local mosquito population.

Holding the staff at last, I felt an immediate connection to it, so strong that it brought tears to my eyes. I really mourned the loss of this tree. I could see that it was completely hollow with rot, and that some animals or birds had been making their homes inside it. I went to go find the stump, but nothing I came across quite fit. I went back and started really looking at the way the tree fell and realized there wasn’t a stump because what looked like a whole tree was actually just the upper branches of a venerable giant standing right next to the path.

I placed my hands on his bark, telling it how sorry I was that this happened. But to my surprise, I felt a sigh of relief from him—the hurricane had in fact broken off his crown just below the rotted section. He was no longer in pain, and in fact welcomed the amputation. I told him then that I would, come spring, take his children and replant them in my own grove. I presented both staff and wand, feeling his satisfaction in my plans for them.

I’ll come back here often, I think, perhaps make it a stop on the way back from Big Mama Pine and the grove. I do hope he’ll still be here in the spring though. It would be nice.

—A.V.

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2 thoughts on “Lessons from an Oak

  1. That is pretty awesome. I love red oak, oak in general really, but we have a lot of reads in my home town. I have a ton acorns that I am sprouting for planting in the spring. I would love to have some kind of staff or wand or something other than an acorn from a red oak. I have met several giants in some of my work over the summer and I love them

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    • Hurricane Irene gifted us with a ton of staff/wand material. I probably have more than I’ll ever use at this point, but it’ll be nice to be able to do a couple of trial pieces before I make the final wand.

      I’m particularly fond of red oaks since they’re the state tree of NJ, where I grew up, and where I first encountered the Druid path.

      Good luck with your grove!

      Like

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