Oaks and Swings
I think my favorite tree is Oak. At least today. We planted a white oak tree years ago – it survived girdling from a dog chain, broken limbs by a neighboring fallen tree and the go cart. We just discovered that the white oak in our yard is producing amazing acorns. My husband says white oak acorns are like candy to deer. I think that means we will be increasing the number of 4 leggeds that will be hanging out in our backyard as a result.
I grew up with a gunnysack swing tied to the strong arm of a gentle giant oak. I spent hours swinging, hanging my head back and gazing into its distinct leaves and branches. I remember singing made-up songs as I spun under the oak’s canopy. I collected acorns by the scoop shovel-full, made people and animals from the acorns and caps, attempted to grind them into flour, and ‘decorated’ my room with them. In grade school, Iowa history class included hikes in the oak savannas nearby. I loved the stately presence of the oaks in wide open spaces. Their spread-out branches created what felt like giant rooms of filtered light in an outdoor house to me. When I think of my early interactions with the oak, I smile on the outside and feel a warm happiness spread through my insides.
I don’t see oak savannas anymore. I learned that it is because there is no fire to burn away the smaller trees and shrubs. The Southern Iowa Oak Savanna Alliance with working with the department of natural resources to restore oak savannas. You can also learn more from the Savanna Oak Foundation.
Are there oak savannas in your area ? What are you doing to create a lasting relationship between today’s children and the gentle giant oaks?