Have you ever planted a tree? I get great satisfaction and joy out of my yearly ritual. In my lifetime I will not see my efforts turn into a mighty oak tree but I know the potential for future generations. If I planted a fruit tree I would reap the benefits within a couple of years. If I planted a miniature Meyer lemon tree I would most likely have a lemon within a year or less. Taking into consideration my lack of a green thumb, I plant oak trees, they are easy to plant and sustain. Every year I see just a little growth and that cheers me on to keep on planting. Just like human growth, mighty ones grow a little at a time along their journey of life.
Tree planting has been done since the beginning. Whether it was done by nature or a human, there has been an ongoing effort to keep trees in our environment.
Without putting any purposeful thought into it, I started collecting antique furniture in my 20’s. I liked the richness of the wood and the quality of the craftsmanship. Of course I chose oak for the type of wood, not having a clue that I would learn to love the mighty oak in ways I never knew possible when I was in my 20’s. My home is still filled with oak antiques using them in daily life as my furniture. When I purchased my current home it had 3-inch gorgeous oak flooring hidden under a worn matted green shag carpet and a layer of linoleum flooring. Every ounce of effort to restore it has brought many rewards. This original flooring has touched the soles of my feet daily for 17 years. The generations who have literally touched my current oak belongings have endless stories to tell.
200 years ago someone planted an oak tree. It may or may not have lived a centurion life but it lived long enough to create the size and richness I see in my quarter-sawn oak. This grain has a beautiful “ray flake” pattern to it. I can imagine the people who encountered the trees creating this beauty. I wonder if there were any “tree huggers” back then. Certainly, someone along the way sat down under one of my belonging’s original oak tree and enjoyed the coolness on a hot summer day. There must have been many people who encountered the trees that made my current surroundings. My imagination goes to the people who had the tools to cut down the massive structure of an oak and find ways to carry it onto saw mills for cutting. I can smell it now. The scent of fresh-cut oak, rich and sweet. The woodworkers who tenderly crafted my furniture must have had great patience and talent to construct the fine pieces I have seen and own. I wonder what their lives were like and how this craft contributed to their lives.
Then there are the 100 years worth of the furnitures existence that have touched many lives. My lawyers chairs possibly could have heard some interesting court cases. I try to imagine the stories all of my furniture could tell. True “antique furniture” requires that it is 100 years old. How many homes or offices my furniture must have lived in. Now that my belongings are in my care it is my turn to feel the presence of their stories and enjoy their usefulness 200 years after they were planted as that one-inch acorn.
With the joy that oaks have provided for me, alive or repurposed, I have the ability and opportunity to plant new seedlings. These trees have the potential for future generations to get the same pleasure and environmental benefit from them. There are numerous tree planting foundations to contribute to if you do not have an acorn on hand.
Maribeth Baxter, MBEC
Donations accepted to serve others on their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, MBEC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.