Thursday, August 28, 2014

The old oak tree

     Legend claims that the giant oak tree has special powers left from the era of Shinnecock Indians inhabiting Long Island. The tree is deep in the woods, and from the pictures that I have seen, it displays initials carved into its trunk like graffiti ruining nature's composition. That makes me sad.
     I want to see for myself what other generations have passed along through their stories. Supposedly, the bark’s healing powers touch those who reach out and claim a love of the earth. My mother told me that when she was growing up young couples hiked to the tree pledging their fidelity before the guys went off to war. Others share their ambitions with the listening oak, and the tree cherishes each one for eternity. Certainly, the tree encounters abundant sorrow and guilt, too, leaving it weary throughout the harsh winters. 
     My friend and I ventured into the woods with a compass and backpacks loaded with every possible item to see us through. I suppose we thought this hike would take hours, and being budding Girl Scouts, we came prepared for a day in the forest. We were going to sketch and take notes before writing up an article for the local newspaper. (Mind you, we were not more than eleven or twelve, and we were overly confident about our importance as reporters.)

      It didn’t take all but five minutes on the well-worn path to find the tree standing there solemnly greeting new visitors. "This is it?" I exclaimed. I walked around the tree fingering various human carvings, and when looked up I caught  a tiny ray of sun smiling through the leaves as if answering me, "Yes, this is it."
     As I stood still a unique aura came over the spot. It didn’t seem necessary to take a picture. Words did not flow into my notebook, nor did they later that day when I was comfortably in my bed, until this very morning, years and years after my visit. 
     Certain experiences hold onto you for ages, and out of the clear blue, they skae free landing on paper miraculously with their own way of passing the story along. 
     The oak tree still stands I am told, although it is invaded on all sides by mega-mansions overlooking Long Island Sound. I wonder if children take time from their cellphones and video games to glance back into the history right around them?
     My secret is guarded deep within the soul of the tree, and neither of us will ever tell.