Farewell to a tree

The oak tree along Highland Valley Trail that I called “The Beekeeper Oak” fell victim to the high winds at the end of September, during the week when we were visiting the Eastern Sierra. Coast Live Oaks sometimes lose a limb like an old branch due to its sheer weight while the remaining part of the tree stays alive – not with this one though. Its entire trunk broke in two essentially and there’s nothing left alive. All the leaves turned brown already.

It was a weak tree of course, hollowed on the inside from past wildfires, and with a beehive in that hollowed out trunk – but nevertheless, it saddens me that this very photogenic tree is no more. I did not make too many photos of it since we only live so close to the trail for about a year now. And now that it is too late of course, I think that I should have brought the infrared camera out here and photograph that tree, while I had the chance. All these things. A life lesson taught by a tree!

Fallen Coast Live Oak along the Highland Valley Trail, San Diego, California. October 2016.
Fallen Coast Live Oak along the Highland Valley Trail, San Diego, California. October 2016.

It was always nice to meet this old tree on my walks with Toni, pause for a moment, trace its gnarly branches with my eyes, watch the bees fly in and out of the hollow trunk, and witness how its surroundings changed throughout the seasons. From sparse first patches of green grass late in the year after the first rains, to thick and lush greenery all around it in spring – which then withered and faded to a pale beige in summer, the tree’s foliage taking on that dark, muted green.

Most of this cycle will begin again, but the tree that focused my attention to all these things around it will not join it again. Instead, it moves on to a different, larger cycle, slowly returning to the earth it came from by means of decomposition, slowly breaking down. And perhaps in a thousand years, one of its atoms will be in everything that is then.

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