California’s Central Valley was once filled with beautiful valley oak trees. Many were cleared for farms and cities but, fortunately, people have come to appreciate these enormous trees and now do what they can to preserve them. I’m happy that we live where oak trees have long been protected and are part of our every day existence. I love to walk beneath the branches and enjoy watching birds, insects, and squirrels that call these trees home. Today, as part of Celebrate This Week, I am celebrating these magnificent trees.
We lived for 22 years in an area once known as “Kilmer’s Oaks” near the Kings River in Kings County. My neighbor, Brenda grew up on the Aydelott Ranch which was built in 1905. The original owner, Mrs. Cleo Lee Aydelott, loved to entertain. Since the ranch was located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, she opened her home to actors and writers who were traveling between the cities. According to local stories, one of the visitors was Joyce Kilmer who wrote the famous poem, Trees, which was published in Poetry Magazine in 1913. (I’ve been researching this and haven’t found anything to confirm that these particular trees inspired the poem but it is a nice story so we’ll continue to believe it’s true.)
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast.
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Supposedly, when an abundance of acorns fall from the trees, it indicates that the winter ahead will be a rainy one. This year there are so many acorns on the ground that we can’t walk without stepping on them. It almost feels like we’re walking on marbles. Hopefully, a wet season is ahead for us.
When my children were in first grade, their fabulous teacher, Mrs. Jost, asked her students to study a habitat. Roxanne chose one of our oak trees and faithfully watched it for several weeks.
This tree is still growing and hopefully will for many years to come. It is quite dramatic when a limb falls from an oak tree. One of our trees actually fell on the house. It crushed the dining room but thankfully no one was in the room at the time.
Here are a three of my favorite children’s books that celebrate oak trees:
As An Oak Tree Grows by G. Brian Karas (author and illustrator) follows the life of an oak tree over 225 years from being planted by a Native American to it’s demise after being struck by lightening. It is interesting to see the wooded area become farmland, then a town and city with the oak tree being a part of the landscape for generations of people. I love the timeline that runs across the bottom of the pages.
The Busy Tree by Jennifer Ward (author) and Lisa Falkenstern (illustrator) introduces the reader to a busy oak tree from the roots anchoring it in the ground to the bark, leaves and branches which provide food, shelter, and a place to play.
Chicken Little retold and illustrated by Steven Kellogg is my favorite version of this classic tale about the silly chick who thinks the sky is falling when she gets hit on the head by a falling acorn. She spreads the word to Ducky Lucky, Goosey Lucy and other assorted fowl as Foxy Loxy tries to gather them up while planning how he’ll prepare each one. The language and illustrations are hilarious and we always shout “the sky is falling” when acorns rain down on our heads.
I can’t imagine a world without oak trees. How about you?
This post is linked to posts by other bloggers who find weekly reasons to celebrate with Ruth Ayres. Stop by and read about good things that are going on.