23 July 2018

I do love solitary oak trees

Or other large trees located far away from others.  I photographed this one today on a back road on my way to a local recycling center.

Here in the Upper Midwest, the story of such trees on farms usually begins with a great-grandparent, who spared a tree while clearing a field for agriculture, so that he and the hired hands would have a shady spot to rest for lunch during planting, weeding, or harvesting chores.

Over the subsequent years those trees often became surrounded by rocks and small boulders that the frost heaved up every spring, and which were thrown under the tree ("rock picking") to get them away from the tilling equipment.  After a decade or two of this, the tree is de facto protected from being cut, even when the advent of tractors with air conditioning negated the original purpose of the tree.

Left to themselves in the center of a field, the oaks fill out to a wonderful symmetry not achieved in the closer confines of a yard or roadside (though this one appears to have lost a branch UL in some remore storm).

Perhaps not apparent at this magnification is that the owners of this farm have placed a bench at the base of the tree, so that someone can still come down to spend a pleasant summer afternoon in the shade of a huge tree.


  1. That's lovely.
    I am at constant loggerheads, albeit it in a friendly way, with the few cattle farmers I know.
    The reason is that in order to grow as much grass as they can, they cut down trees and shrubs, and are seemingly deaf to be protestations that animals need shelter, their response being 'they're outside animals !'.
    Yes they are, but outside, through every step of evolution apart from the last maybe 100 years, has provided shelter from the icy rain, the biting wind and the sweltering summer sun.
    You'd think that people whose entire income is derived from the animals they slaughter would have more consideration for those animal's comfort and happiness.
    Sorry, that's all a bit askew from a nice picture of a tree.

  2. Whalen Road? I love that tree.

    1. Yes! Whalen just east of Fish Hatchery.


  3. "I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do."

    Willa Cather

  4. Just visited Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in the mountains of North Carolina. His immortal words: I think I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree."


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