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.