« The chapel, Linden Hall | Main | Easter side trip »

The oak tree

When my parents moved our family to a 28 acre farm in the hills south of Syracuse, New York, the yard in front of the weatherbeaten early 19th century wood clapboard farmhouse was surrounded with mature trees - several different species of towering maples, a butternut, a big old willow, spruce, pine, an orchard of fruit trees, tall cedars. Next to the attached garage stood a slender young pin oak, an almost scrawny thing.

Fifty six years later, most of those trees have died, and new ones that my father planted have taken their place. But along with the cedars in front of the kitchen window and across the driveway at the gable end of the barn, the oak still stands. Its huge trunk splits off into thick limbs, twisting wildly in different directions before pointing skyward again to form an enormous canopy.

My parents, now both 87, have remained in the old farmhouse. My mother needs a lot of assistance, but my father is still strong and healthy enough to care for her, and has made it his main mission in life to see to her comfort as best he can. It is touching to see how their relationship has mellowed and weathered the storms of a long marriage. They've become gently affectionate with each other. Some echo of what drew them together, cultures apart, so many years ago. Along with being Easter, my father's birthday was Sunday, so Gabe and I made the familiar 250 mile drive north on Saturday afternoon. 

Sunday morning, our visit lasted little more than an hour; my mother needed to go to the hospital, but they were cheered to see Gabe and both were in good spirits. As we said our goodbyes outside the garage and prepared to leave, I looked up at the massive oak. I thought how it had stood there, slowly growing for all these decades. All of what it represented to me. The years I lived on that farm. I thought of the many times I've not done or said what the moment asked for, and how little time we really have. The oak seemed to beckon me to pause and reflect.

I took out my sketchbook and a soft pencil and walked across the grass, calling over my shoulder to Gabe that it would be a few minutes more before we got back on the road.

the old oak, 8" x 10", graphite and colored pencils and watercolor



PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>