October 20, 2011

The Passing of a Giant

Shortly after we arrived in Tennessee in April, an extra-strong spring storm came through. A microburst zapped us and blew over our 400-500 year old white oak. I don't have a good pic of the whole tree standing, but it's the one on the right. The trunk was about 10 feet in diameter at its base. (It looks dead but this pic was taken before the tree greened out for spring.)

Jeff and I were watching TV during the storm. The wind gusts were shaking the house, thunder & lightning galore, when I felt a thump through the floor. It was a deep bass thump, and the house shook a bit. I asked Jeff if he felt it and he said no. I said "Something big just hit the ground!" and I peeked out a window. When lightning flashed I saw dark sky, not the outline of the branches of our oak. I FREAKED.

I went running out into the storm (no coat, no shoes) and the tree was gone. Just gone. I burst into tears. In the dark I couldn't tell what had happened but as you'll see from the pix we were really, really lucky. It could have fallen on the house...

This is only one branch sticking up; the rest of the tree is on the ground. If it had fallen the other way our home would have been annihilated.

It turned out to be almost completely hollow inside. It looks like at some point lightning struck it and the entire inside of the tree burned - it was all black inside.

That chainsaw looks totally inadequate for the job at hand, doesn't it? But Jeff has persevered...

This might give you an idea of how big the tree really was.

And the removal continues:

That was "my" tree. I loved that tree. It had a hollow in it that I used to crawl into when I was a child. It had the remnants of my brothers' tree house although the only way to climb it was with a ladder. I remember one time a wild dog had her puppies in the hollow.

As time went by the tree grew around the hollow and closed it up. That was OK - the majesty of that giant was enough. It shaded the house from the scorching summer sun, and dropped acorns by the hundreds. It was a home for squirrels and birds. It spoke to me of peace, quiet, and deep, slow thoughts.

I miss that tree every day. I grieve for it as an old friend who has passed, and removing its remnants is painful. Part of my childhood, part of my heart, is gone.

My apologies to my subscribers for the multiple notifications you received - I'm not very good at arranging pictures on blogspot!!

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