Living in the mountains on a large piece of land equates to having a lot of trees. Our property is gently sloping with the rear yard slightly higher than the front yard. But for the most part, our yard is level. There is no chance of the girls playing with a ball and if it goes out of reach, it won't keep rolling down the hill. No, we don't live on such an extreme hill and would not want to live on a steep hill. The owners before us leveled off a large area that totals maybe 3 or 4 acres and is fairly even. One acre is reserved for the garden area, and the rest for the house and yard around the house and pole barn.
The rest of the property is trees. Trees of all shapes and sizes. Oak, locust, pine, maple, tulip, ash and more. We love all the trees and welcome the shade they give us, the wood we burn for heat and the yearly fall extravaganza. Some of these trees have probably seen pioneers heading West and civil war soldiers marching by, or former slaves escaping to the North. Maybe even Hillbillies making moonshine from stills made of old car parts. What these trees could tell us if they could talk.
We have a great old Oak tree that sits on the edge of our property right on the shoulder of the main road. We can't see it from the house, but you can't miss it as you pull out of the driveway. Hubby frets about some of the trees that sit along the road, worries that the earth erodes away from the roots and weakens the support structure of the trees and someday, they may fall. He hopes they won't fall on a car or cause an accident. The edge of our property sits about 4 or 5 feet above the road, so every year, normal erosion causes the dirt to wash away and roots get exposed.
We had a heavy rain storm last night and on my way to the food store this morning, I saw pieces of our Oak tree all over the road that someone cleared away and dumped on the other side of the road. As soon as I came back home, I told Hubby and he went out to inspect the damage. While the Oak tree still stands, a humongous limb cracked and fell on the road. The neighbor across the road came out and said it happened in the night and she heard chainsaws going with lights flashing through her bedroom window. We put all the wood and branches into Hubby's truck and hauled it to the back yard. There is still a huge chunk of limb sitting in the ditch that is just too heavy for us to lift and Hubby will attack it with a chain saw later, if no one else claims it for firewood.
After clipping off all the thin branches and leaves, I tried to count all the rings and counted over 50 before I gave up. The limb alone is over 60 years old!! Imagine how old the whole Oak tree is!
Hubby wants to hire a tree trimming company and have them come to cut down the Oak tree along with a few others that look one heavy storm away from toppling over. I grieve for the Oak tree, and hate to see it come down, but I know that it is time to say good-bye. Looking up into its canopy of leaves, you can see other dead limbs and signs of rot in parts of the trunk. Looking in the base, right above the mass of roots, there is a hole almost halfway through. I think last night we were lucky that the limb didn't fall on a car or kill someone and the next time might not be so lucky. I take comfort in knowing that there are plenty of Oak's offspring growing around that tree, and all it's wood will be used to heat our home for the winter.
I think, out of respect for that Mighty Oak, I'll take one of it's acorns and plant it along the driveway. Nurture it and watch it grow (I smell a home school lesson here!). And if it is lucky, it may live as long as it's ancestor did.