Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Grandmother Tree

If ever I leave this place, I will miss the trees. Kentucky is filled with trees but these are our trees. They are like old friends. Many I remember when they were much smaller. Some, we have planted ourselves. Two were transplanted from our first house. Two average sized oaks stood over our pool for over a decade, giving us shade but also causing yellow algae. The pool is now gone, the twin oaks are majestic and shade our house. We have an evergreen grove, baby trees planted by my husband when we first moved. He was going to transplant them around the property, but somehow, they got too big before he thought to do it. It makes a nice place for deer to sleep.

The tree I treasure most you would not see if you came to my house. It is on the hill in the back overlooking the creek. I call it our "Grandmother Tree". I often think about the history of our property, what it might have been like before Europeans arrived, who might have lived here before and since. We are only 5 miles by bird to the Ohio River, so it is not hard to imagine that natives roamed my creek, though I've found no proof.

This Grandma Tree is still healthy. She needs a few limbs removed, but shows no trunk rot. Measuring 177" or almost 15 feet in circumference, it is in the white oak family. I used "Leaf Snap", an app for identifying tree leaves, to determine that it was a white oak. Then, using a calculation for oak trees, I figured that this tree is 282 years old. This means it sprouted in 1735 or so.

The first main excursion into Kentucky didn't occur until 1750 when Thomas Walker came through the Cumberland Gap. Some of my ancestors would later follow this route to settle here. Many of my ancestors were still in Europe. This tree would have been 15 years old already when the first Europeans started infiltrating this land. It would have been a 34 year old tree when Daniel Boone led his first expedition and a full grown adult 40 year old tree when he founded the first permanent European settlement. Dan Boone was all over this land and could easily have sat under our tree. He wouldn't recognize the spot: the creek is much wider (due to runoff from development in the neighborhood) and I'm sure many trees weren't as hardy as our Grandmother tree.

If only she could tell me what she has witnessed...

1 comment:

Fatcat said...

So cool! I'm off to try and do that calculation and find out how old our backyard trees are.


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