An Old Oak Tree
That's an old oak tree with unknown history. Its massive trunk and expressive branches have enchanted our look. I would say nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. And even more I adore it when it stands alone, like a lonely person or a sanctuary.
By the way, under the tree was found a fresh sign of moose sleeping place. Unfortunately, the mammal king of a forest has left it before we came in a scene.
Probably most of you have a photo of a tree in your stock portfolio. I am not an exception. For most of us a tree trunk is something more than just a piece of wood as it is for a carpenter or woodcutter. We do not look at it as it is a material for furniture, oxygen or fuel. Trees looks like someone who shares their being with us.
Trees as such usually have their stories and are regarded as symbols or sanctuaries. For instance, the famous German Buchenwald tree under which Goethe has been writing his poems and on which branches prisoners were hanged is very popular topic of discussion in a context of Nazi regime. Or a famous Lithuanian oak – Stelmuze oak – beneath which a pagan God Perkunas was worshiped. Unfortunately, no information on this pictured tree was found, except the fact that not so far away from that place growths another oak which is more than 500 years old. In the surroundings of this tree one can notice an empty field full of bushes, a hunters turret and a much younger oak. What else? Of course, signs of wild boar searching for the acorns and a sleeping place of earlier mentioned moose.
Anyway, the most important mark is the tree itself. The oak seems endures what others cannot. Whether it be a woodcutter with axes in his hand or a lightning which makes those dark wounds on his trunk. It is clear that a tree remains strong through the challenges and at the moment of encounter it looks as being almost immortal. One can feel indescribable respect for this mighty oak, others can search for the story it has hidden and gain some meaning or inspiration. Someone can seek for compassion while feeling broken and cannot bear their lives any longer.
A German forest ranger and now a writer, Peter Wohlleben says that trees can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the 'Wood Wide Web' – and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries (Wohlleben, 2016) How can a tree cut down centuries ago could still be alive? Without leaves, a tree is unable to perform photosynthesis, which is how it converts sunlight into sugar for nutrition. That means ancient tree stumps were receiving nutrients in some other way — from their tree neighbors or relatives by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots. Sometimes they are so interconnected with roots that one dies, another dies too. In the same wood wide web the parent tree cares of and communicates with their children. I would believe there is such a connection between the oak pictured and younger one mentioned. Moreover, I would like to believe that there is a kind of connection with the neighbor elder or even „more“.
Speaking about „more“, Wohlleben illustrates the role of trees in Earth’s ecosystem with a story about Yellowstone National Park (Wohlleben, 2016). When the Wolves disappeared from Yellowstone than the entire ecosystem changed. Elk herds in the park increased largely and began to make quite a meal of the aspens, willows, and cottonwoods that lined the streams. Vegetation declined and animals that depended on the trees left. The wolves were absent for seventy years. When they returned and the trees came back. The roots of cottonwoods and willows once again stabilized stream banks and slowed the flow of water. This, in turn, created space for animals such as beavers to return. The wolves turned out to be better stewards of the land than people. Thus, the moral of the story is that not only trees are interconnected with each other, but its role in Eco-system is central. This example demonstrates how our appreciation for trees affects the way we interact with the world around us.
As for the old oak, I am sure that we are not the first who were standing next to him with our heads laid back and eyes full of surprise, likewise someone else with their hands towards and eyes full of tears. The same wild boars are looking at acorns with eyes full of joy and stomach full of food. The moose is happy with a shelter from the wind and even more.
Such are my thoughts concerning this old oak on that snowy winter morning.
How does your oak tree look like?
For further readings:
Wohlleben Peter (2016) The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World, Greystone Books
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Photo credits: Helgardas.