When I was growing up one of the main landmarks on our property was the old oak tree in the back yard. Grandma Doby said it was a large tree when she was a little girl. When we finally had to cut it down back in the 1990’s I counted approximately 131 rings in the trunk. As you can see from the pictures I posted it took a lot of work to get it on the ground, mainly for fear of it falling on the house. Over the years it served in many capacities for my family, some of which I would like to share with you now.
SHADE TREE – The most important thing I remember about this tree was the shade it provided. We did not have air conditioning and it could get very hot during the summer. This tree was on the east side of the house and it would provide shade from the morning sun, allowing the house to be relatively cool. We had an attic fan and would open the windows on that side of the house to pull the cool air in. I guess I am spoiled now because I could not imagine dealing with the heat without an air conditioner, but we survived.
When we would come in from the field, the oak tree is where we would all collapse and rest. Whether harvesting tobacco or hauling hay, work on the farm would have everyone pretty well exhausted. A few minutes stretched out on a blanket under the oak tree would revitalize us enough to head back out to the fields.
BASEBALL BASE – One of my childhood friends would come over and we would play one-on-one baseball. The oak tree was second base. This came in handy sometimes because a drive to center field by my friend would bounce off of the tree and back to me, preventing a home run. This might seem unfair but in one-on-one baseball you can use all the help you can get.
WILDLIFE REFUGE – Over the years plenty of birds and squirrels would call the old oak tree home. For a while a swarm of honey bees was in the trunk several feet up. They were high enough up that they usually did not bother us. Thankfully they were no longer there when we cut the tree down. As you can see in the last picture, cats seem to find the stump was also a comfortable place to take a break.
Even though it has been gone for several years I still think of that tree, especially when I walk out in the back yard on a hot summer day and need a break from the heat!