Thursday, October 22, 2009

mighty oaks

copyright grace albaugh 2009

If I look out any one of the windows in my new house I can see beautiful Oak trees. They are different shapes and sizes. Some are very large and old with branches that reach in all directions. Others are younger and thin trying hard to follow the example of their elders, but knowing they have about one hundred years to mature. They are wise and steady and sink their roots deep into the soil. They give me a sense of strength in myself when I am amongst them. I am grateful to be surrounded by such majesty.

I'm sure it was the dozens of Oaks that grew in our yard that rooted and strengthened me when I was growing up. We moved to 106 River when I was 4 years old. I was just about a minute in size with skinny little legs and arms. My blue eyes devoured all of the wonderful, natural surroundings that were part of our property. Beautiful perennial flower beds, lush green grass, and these giant oak trees were the landscape for my soul. I think we all have something that makes us feel alive and nature is my breath.
These trees provided endless days of make believe play for the neighbor girls and me. One day they would be the place where we swung on the one seat swing daddy hung from a high branch. This tree was in the front north corner of the yard and the view as we swung was the bluffs across the Mississippi river. It was spectacular in Autumn. The color was as though the entire stretch of bluff was on fire. As far as the eye could see it was red, yellow, orange, green and brown. One color intertwined with another. All supported by the jagged rock cliff cut out by the flow of the river over the last thousand years or so. If that doesn't give you strength and breath I don't know what else does?
At other times the oaks were chosen, one by each girl, to be our pioneer homes. We loved to play pioneer. The entire quarter acre yard was portioned out with the driveway as the river. The north garden was the prairie (or several other things). The general store was sometimes on the front porch or back in the dog run. The details changed every time we played depending on every one's mood. We stayed open to new ideas and if nobody wanted to run the general store then an imaginary person suited us just fine. It was always an improvisational play time to keep it fresh and interesting. Of course there were those days when someone was cranky and spoiled the fun, but for the most part we had a blast. We even made long calico skirts and bonnets to wear. That was another fun afternoon taking turns at Mrs. Bacon's treadle sewing machine down in Lisa and Linda's basement. But that's another story.
The base of our oaks is where Anne and her friend poured a "magic potion" of baking soda and vinegar to bring us treasure. It was where I sat on cool summer days to read a book. It was where I stood and stooped watching intently as the ants and spiders ran all over the rough bark looking for food and homes to build. These trees were part of me in a way that the people in my life are a part of me. I'm sure that sounds a bit dramatic but it's true. I love those trees!

And now I have oaks in my life again. What a sweet feeling. To be among new old friends. To walk amongst them and feel their strength and wisdom. To recall the sweet memories my old friends shared. It is a new blessing in my life and I'm so glad of it.


Madame DeFarge said...

You're lucky to have such great trees around you. When I'm in London, I do have the plane trees, but they're just not the same as oaks.

Grace Albaugh said...

Yes, there is something about oaks that is special.