In a Timely Manner
Today, I look at the Laurel Oak which decorates my front yard and it towers over my head and my one-story brick house. But, in 1996 this tree was nothing but a thin and fragile transplant I brought from Statesboro, Georgia. I had told my father that I needed a few trees for the yard of my new home and he said, "why buy when you can just dig some up here?" He was right. The house where my parents lived in Statesboro was surrounded by a thick woods of hardwood trees in all levels of growth and size. As we searched for what my dad called, "the perfect specimen," (a throwback to his days working with scientists and physicians) we tried not to get tangled in raspberry bushes or brush up against the leaves of poison ivy. After much searching, we found a perfectly straight Laurel Oak being crowded by other trees and brush. Trying desperately to grow faster and reach up into the sky before it was starved from sunlight by the impending blanket of greenery. I remember driving the nearly two hours home along Highway 25 with the branches hanging out the back windows of my car and worrying that the wind damage would take a toll on this young tree. The next morning I planted it in an open spot in my front yard and today, over twenty years later, the tree is a very "perfect specimen."
A lot has happened over the nearly quarter century since that tree was planted in our front yard.
I have said goodbye to many that I loved dearly. My parents; Bob and Ginger, my little brother Craig and my older sister, Gail. I have said goodbye to three dogs, one of which named "Ready," or "Red" for short, is buried under that oak because she loved to sit in the shade its leaves generously provided.
I watched a new century come into play. I met new family members I never knew existed. I watched horrified as our country was attacked by terrorists and saw a new, more distant way of life take hold. I've watched with joy as my nieces and nephews were married and then had children of their own. I have made many new friends and said goodbye to many others, some by distance, others by death. There have been wars and sadly, racial strife and inequality continue.
And all the while, that tree keeps growing upward. There was nothing blocking it from growing as high as it could go on my property. No brush or other trees to hinder it from a straight shot upward. The tree stands proud now. It had a chance to grow as far as it could go, growing like a rocket towards space.
A clear shot to the sky above without brush or other trees blocking its view. It produces hundreds if not thousands of acorns every season and a food supply for squirrels and birds during the winter months. It provides shade for me and a beautiful view...along with a lot of memories.
What started as a spindly sapling, fragile and yielding to the wind, has become a majestic, green giant today. And everyday time keeps unfolding in front of us while the tree keeps growing.
When I planted that tree I was only 34 years old...today I am 58. I know not where I will be in another quarter century, but that tree will be even larger and still very youthful for a hardwood of this kind. I hope it lives on. Yes, my hope is that someday, many decades from now, this tree will have thick trunk, wider in girth than many others. That its tallest branches will tower so high that they rise above the other trees growing nearby. I hope that it will live out its life free to grow, not trimmed and cut to make room for a new road or building. I hope that future generations will see it as something sacred, that has lived so long and been through so much history on earth, that it would be a sin to destroy it.
I hope that it remembers me like the memories that it has stored in my mind.