I stood at the French door in my bedroom looking out at a spring storm early last week, the sky greenish gray, the rumble of thunder booming. I was hoping for rain–here in the Texas hill country we’re in extreme drought–but we received, instead, only rather scary wind.
I watched our cedar elms thrash large limbs like arms back and forth, as if dancers gyrating to some old-time rock and roll. I observed lightning slicing down to the horizon.
And then I saw the Spanish oak tree fall.
It wasn’t the one I halfway expected to see, the elderly one with the crack down the length of its trunk. It was the last remaining healthy-looking Spanish oak in the back yard. They aren’t long-lived, and often their trunks are hollow; the past few years of drought and severe summer heat, the spread of fungal oak wilt, and this past winter’s extreme (and unusual for us) cold-snaps-with-ice have all combined to stress and kill many of our Texas trees.
Still, I didn’t expect to lose this one. It has provided shade and beauty, standing sentinel next to the gate in my beloved stone wall (pictured at top with Virginia creeper at its base), and in losing it, I felt I was losing a protector and old friend. In autumn, Spanish oaks provide some of our best fall color.
Even in this dry spring, nature has produced shades of brilliant greens, and, ironically, a couple of hours earlier and before I could see any signs of a storm, I had photographed the view.
But this is what my friend looked like after the fall:
The cedar elms remain, almost cupping my sweet overhanging deck in their branches, providing respite and a place to feel peace.
As I sit there now, I am reminded: we all have our hidden wounds, hollow spots in ourselves which can’t always stand up to the strongest winds. And I might do well to remember what Philo said:
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
* * * *
What evidence of hidden wounds have you observed–in others, in yourself, or in nature?
Describe strength or comfort you have found in trees.
In Philadelphia area the local native Americans call trees standing people and I feel a connection to them. I have gone to town meetings to save 100 year old oaks. I have an oak that is a home to many animals and I watch over it. It is like a companion. When I saw your lost tree I felt a pain. I know they age and die too but it looked like it was in its prime. I hope you will be like Johnny Appleseed and when your loss is less plant a youg tree to enjoy that place in the sun someday. After it fell it left room for a different view of the far bank that may bring an unexpected gift. But it is hard to loss that living presence that offered itself to your spirit
You and I share an abiding love for trees, and I like the term “standing people” which you mention. As always, thank you, Linda.
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Thank you so much, Janet. I really appreciate your reading and taking the time to let me know you are doing so. 🙂
Wow….. Wounds! Beautiful
To read this gorgeous morning. My guardian tree fell in last wind. Guarded my bedroom at corner
Of house. Now in yard awaiting.
Become firewood to warm me.
Chaos, creativity and dancing stars! Kathleen
What wisdom in using the fallen trees in our lives to warm us, Kathleen!
Having just returned from a women’s writing conference (Story Circle Network), your Spanish Oak’s story really resonates for me, Chris. I attended this remarkable conference and sat at round tables with beautiful women. Like the trees in Texas’ springtime, their foliage was brilliant. It wasn’t until they shared their stories that their wounds became apparent. Who knew they had that hollow spot at their very core? And yet, unlike our beloved Hill Country trees, these resilient women grew stronger around their wounds and continue to stand tall among us. Thanks for helping me once again to practice wonder with you!
Thank you, Anne, for a beautiful reminder that wounds can make us stronger. Thank you, also, for being such a blessing in my life.
Today as I read your thoughtful words and saw your pictures I also felt a great lost of another beautiful tree. It reminded me of the huge live oak tree that fell down in our yard a couple of years ago. All of our trees are special but this one was Brandon’s favorite tree to climb. We must hold dear our memories and not let them die too.