By John Clise
The mighty oak… it’s dark brown leaves rustling in the fall wind, looking nearly golden in the afternoon sun. The rustling tells the story of its life.
The mighty oak was just a sapling at the time of the war between the states when the future was so in doubt for the young nation.
Since then, time has passed as the oak has reached higher and higher into the sky. Spared the loggers’ axes when winter came abruptly and harsh driving them away.
Its seen two world wars come to pass, and so many other wars through its life. Its seen men go the moon. Its seen so many glorious and wonderful things.
It was there before the state highway that runs just a few feet from the tree came through. Back then it was a walking trail, then came horses and wagons, cars, and finally black top to make traveling faster and easier.
Yet through it all, the mighty oak just stayed its ground holding court daily as people passed by, some stopping for a spell in the shade.
Travelers took cover there, children played and lovers swooned over one another as they picnicked, having a kiss or two.
Perhaps in older times, when the tree was smaller, children fashioned swings from lower branches and dreamed of flying as they spun round and round holding on for their lives. Perhaps in those same days, travelers took shelter under the oak for a good night’s sleep before moving on to their destination.
Standing next to the huge tree, looking behind it, you can see a flat spot where long gone home once stood. Closer inspection exposes the crumbled remains of a foundation now just pebbles and dust.
If you listen just enough you can hear the giggles of children playing; a dog barking; mother calling everyone home to dinner; dad coming down from the barn dusting off his pants and shirt. There’s the smell of fresh cooked biscuits in the air.
Looking at the mighty oak, you hear the snort of a 14 point buck passing by in yesteryear or the grunt of a 350 pound bear seeking a spot for an afternoon nap. Hawks fly overhead stalking squirrels and chipmunks unlucky enough to venture out from under the safety of the canopy of the oak.
Its lived through rains, snow, winds, ice, tornados, and the coming of humans to take up its domain. Yet it continues to thrive. It even survived the installation of telegraph lines, then electric lines.
Now, in fall, it stands as a majestic testament to time, endurance and life itself.
Its rustling leaves bring peace to those lucky enough to hear. Those sounds make everything slow down. The clutter of the mind, and life just fades away for a precious few minutes allowing joy and hope to seep back into the soul.