The Hundred Year Oak

The hundred year oak is gone.* It was rotted out and struck by lightning and the Inda boys came and cut it down and sawed it up. It is stacked in stove-sized pieces in the wood shed behind the cabin.

There is a big, new stump at the shore. But the hundred year oak remains. Even when the stump is gone I shall remember its place. The hundred year oak doesn't go away. Neither does the land go away, the land that you have known and lived on. The land is remembered. There is neither simply land then, nor simply memory. It happens if you are lucky to have lived in a place, really lived in it.

They cut down the hundred year oak, and it is still there. It is there just as my grandfather is there on the frozen lake when I pause while cutting a hole for fishing and in the morning quiet look down the channel at the sun coming up over the pines; it is there just as my grandmother is there walking the old path along the shore and pointing out the first shoots of skunk cabbage in the spring. Look down too for the marsh marigolds, she said. Look down to see the spring, she said. Look down.

* Rings on the trunk date the oak at 157 years. The usual life of an oak tree is 80 to 100 years.


  1. Honestly this is waves of sound as rythmic as the see. Not kidding.

  2. I hear these waves too. I don't forget the walk with your grandparents one sunny winter afternoon. We stopped and they pointed out the land un mil de puertas, pronto, stan abiertos de mis ojos. I remember the ice. I remember how your grandmother would bring wood to the fire. I remember how the fans were perched in the corners to circulate the heat. I remember the jigsaw puzzles.


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