27 August 2007

the Big Oak

As a kid, I amassed legions of tiny plastic soldiers and army tanks. I built sophisticated foxholes and encampments for my warring miniatures and stock-piled ammunition in forms of bombs and "mega-bombs". I had the beaches of Normandy, right there, below the great spreading branches of the Big Oak tree in the back of my parents woods. This tree is massive and has great mounding roots stretching from its trunk outward-great for battling upon. Its a red oak-so the giant acorns were my mega-bombs and there was a nearby pin oak, for my every day bombs. Sometimes the squirrels would send their scouting parties in at night and haul away my bombs.

On a recent trip to my folks I passed by the Big Oak, as we call it, and noticed that near the base, a few feet up the trunk, the bark appeared to have some dry rot coming through. The old tree has weathered a lot of storms, including a tornado in 1993, which damaged several large limbs in the crown. It is massive.........12 feet around the trunk, and based on growth rings I have seen on other similar trees, I would estimate it to be well over 200 years old. I'm hoping its around for another 100 years, but not so sure now. There are two pin oaks nearby that are about 10' around too.

I've often wondered why this and the handful of other dinosaurs were allowed to grow in this little patch of woods. There are few locations in Indiana where virgin timber still stands-of course, this is only a pocket, but an impressive one. Most was cut down to clear for planting or to provide wood for building. I checked some old maps, only to find the road in front of my parents house didn't exist until the 1920's. It appears that much of the area was under water. Maybe the trees were spared because they were just too hard to get to. Any thoughts?

This old friend has spawned a lot of offspring, so I guess it will live on. Shame though, to know something that was around before Indiana was even a territory, and before we became a country, who looked down on the Native Americans (I've found a few arrowheads nearby) may be seeing its last days. Leaving lots of good memories.

No comments: