Mighty Oaks

Ryan's tree, planted in 1974

Just like the saying, “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow,” Bob and I had an idea 36 years ago that has grown mightier than we ever imagined.

Shortly after receiving confirmation that our son, Ryan, would be born in 7 months, we planted a tiny oak tree in what later became the goat yard.  The seedling was free from the Agricultural Extension Service and came in a 1 gallon pot.  We knew it would grow tall and strong, just as we prayed our son would.  He did and so did the tree.

Four years later, for all the same reasons, we planted another oak for our newborn daughter Rebecca. This tree planting had become a family tradition.

When Ryan’s first child, Laurel, was born, we continued the custom, but with a new twist.  Long since in disuse, the goat yard had been reclaimed by Mother Nature.  Ryan’s 60′ oak had showered the ground with acorns, many of which had germinated into nice little saplings.  We dug one up an it became Laurel’s tree.  Coincidentally, it is a laurel oak. 

Laurel, 2, with her tree, planted in 2004

And so we continued, with Robert and most recently, Alastair.  At planting, his tree is considerably smaller than his cousins’ had been, but ultimately it didn’t matter.

Rebecca, Alastair, Harvey and with Alastair's oak #1, 2009

It was our intention to take a picture of the children on their birthdays, wearing the birthday outfit I had made.  But one thing and another got in the way so we just took the pictures as close to their birthdays as possible, wearing whatever.

Robert, 3, with his tree planted in 2005

For Robert’s third birthday, one of his gifts was a raincoat.  He loved it and refused to take it off when it was picture taking time.  Oh well.

The children take great pride in their trees, checking regularly on the size and comparing it to pictures of earlier birthdays.

The story of Rebecca and Alastair’s trees differs greatly from Ryan’s, though they both, so far, have a happy ending.

When Rebecca was about 8, a large pine fell on her tree, totally destroying it.  We replaced her OakR (for Rebecca) #1 with OakR #2 but a few years later a similar disaster occurred.  OakR#2 would never provide shade or acorns.

Rebecca's 3rd tree, thriving and almost stately

Because Rebecca was so sad after her second tree died we planted two replacement trees, OakR #3 and OakR #4, just for a measure of insurance.  Like Rebecca, they both have thrived, but at the time of Alastair’s birth, we could find no obvious seedlings.   So Alastair’s OakA #1 was dug from under Ryan’s tree.

Ironically, while mowing with his tractor, Bob overlooked  Alastair’s wee OakA#1 and cut it flat to the ground.  Then OakA #2 was planted, but it just plain died.  So that’s two dead trees for Alastair, just like his mother.

Recently, I found a nice little sapling for Alastair, growing in the plumbago hedge, a short distance from Rebecca’s OakR#4.  It has been designated OakA#3 and by virtue of its location will not be mowed down.    Having come from the “mother tree” and having chosen its own location, it is expect to grow tall and strong, just like Rebecca has and Alastair will.

Rebecca’s next child will get a dogwood, or perhaps a pine.

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