If I were an oak tree, I would choose to be unique among trees. When springtime came, I’d stay barren while the buds on the other trees were swelling and bursting. When the other trees had leafed out lush and green and glorious, I would begin my awakening. I wouldn’t worry that no one was watching me because they were too busy watching the impossibly lush maple trees. Maples seem to need more attention anyhow, but I’d be fine on the sidelines, slowly swelling into a very deep and dark and powerful green.
|The oak on the old Muddy River.|
If I were an oak tree, I’d take my time growing so that the wood of my trunk would become very strong and hard. When delicate birches were crashing around me and splitting in half at the trunk because of an ice storm, I would weather the monstrous cold as if I were on a tropical island. My tough wood could certainly withstand a paltry -20F temperature, and easily more than that. While other trees were bowing their heads to the Lord of Winter, I would not wince or move at all.
And because I’d have chosen to grow so slowly and so strongly as an oak, I would easily live to be many hundreds of years old, perhaps even a thousand. I would see civilizations come and go, from birth to death, whole countries whirling into being and whirling out again while I dig my roots in deep at the old river.
If I were an oak tree, I would be much too busy fortifying my boundaries to give sweet sap in the spring like the maples do. I wouldn’t give the heavy resins that the quick-growing, soft-wooded fir trees do. My bark would be rock hard, not peeling and papery like the birches. I wouldn’t succumb to the blight as the chestnuts do. I wouldn’t put up with the constant animal raids that the fruit trees deal with. I would stand firm and alone.
I would have none of the foolishness of the other trees. I would grow tall and strong and quiet. In the fall, when the maple trees were giving their brilliant but all too brief display, I would patiently wait, green and quiet. Then when the reeds were turning to yellow and brown and the maples had finished their garish theatrical play, I would slowly turn my leaves to a deep and dark red, in a reminder to all that I am the King of the forest. I am the lifeblood of the land, and anything fashioned from me by only the bravest of carpenters is impenetrable. I am a force to be reckoned with; I cannot be conquered. I am the Mighty Oak.