Posts Tagged ‘Live Oak’
I wish we could talk to trees. I bet they’d have interesting things to say…and most likely, unfavorable opinions of us. I put a character who could do that into Dawn on Earth, and he found a range of intellects, from wise to idiotic. Deep in my soul I know oaks are wise, but I’m beginning to think crepe myrtles are idiots. The only thing they do really well is survive. A man I knew had a little group of them in his back yard. He hated those trees, and one day he had them bulldozed into a shallow stream on the edge of his property. Three years later, he had a couple of hundred enthusiastically forming a border.
We have some large ones at the front of our yard near the street, but they’re peculiar. Our neighbor across the way has them, too, but his, like the rest of the neighborhood, bloom at least three weeks earlier than ours; actually, his azaleas do the same thing. I had some plant people come in for a look, but they had no idea what was going on either.
Finally, they decided it was the strain we had planted…but BOTH crepe myrtles and azaleas? Didn’t make sense to me, and every early summer our subdivision is a sea of red, white, and pink…except in our yard. About a month later, ours pop out, look around and seem to say, “Where is everybody?” I was all locked into light patterns and soil, even though the tree guys didn’t think much of my ideas. “You know, you could always take them out and plant new ones,” they said.
TAKE THEM OUT? Are you crazy? In hurricane season? They’re our first line of defense against a hard blow from the south! On other fronts we’re well protected, but facing south it’s only those trees, some bushes, and a particularly viscious holly hedge protecting a large window. They’re the only thing between us and flying shingles, limbs, and most importantly, trash can covers, which seem to delight in recreating the Roswell incident during a storm, clattering, crashing everywhere. Everybody I know takes theirs in…where the hell did THESE come from? They must be from newbies…or unusually good flyers from Abbeville, fifteen miles below.
Besides, I like those trees. I can’t even imagine killing them simply because they tend to dawdle. Everybody has peculiarities, and even though they don’t bloom well, it’s nice to have some green out there near the road. In Dawn on Earth, the world is uniformly yellow, brown, and dusty. I don’t want my front yard to become the fulfillment of my novel.
Out back, we’re protected by two massive, ancient live oaks. The only negative thing I can say about them is that in the spring they shower us with tons of fuzzy yellow stuff. They rest of the time they’re quite friendly…and majestic. Once a determined water oak decided to join them. I accidentally mowed it down a couple of times but it kept on coming back. I decided to let it live…since it wanted to so badly, but that was a big mistake.
In no time at all it was sixty feet high and I thought quite beautiful, but it was antisocial…a juvenile delinquent, stealing water from the other trees and plants in the yard and killing the grass. When the tree people told me they have very shallow root systems and are the first to go in a storm, our energetic tree’s fate was sealed. We chopped it down, corded it, stacked it, and used it for beautiful fires during the next few winters, leaving the live oaks to suck up all the water they wanted, and they thrived.
One night a dinner guest went outside to admire them and came back in all bubbly and impressed. “You should REGISTER those trees,” she gushed. I gotta admit, I wasn’t too up on registering trees. It turns out you actually can do that, but by doing so, you relinquish all say in what’s going to happen to YOUR trees in YOUR back yard. I wasn’t crazy about that, so our trees never joined the elite.
As a matter of fact, last year we had them trimmed…severely. The tree people said they would be more effective as a hurricane barrier if they were less bushy…and pose less of a threat to the house. The oaks didn’t seem to mind, and I know I sleep a lot better at night, particularly when there’s a tropical depression in the gulf or the Caribbean.
Sorry, water oak, you weren’t up to the job. You never learned the art of sharing, but we remember you fondly on cold, wet winter nights. You couldn’t let go of your self-determined sense of primacy or accept the idea of others in your world who were equally deserving. We humans learned that a long time ago, at least most of us. I guess I’m going to have to put you into the IDIOT category…like the crepe myrtles…and the azaleas…and maybe a few human beings.