Grandmother Oak

When we moved from the house we lived in for seven years, I knew there was something that wouldn’t change: our morning walks. It is a practice that was birthed in the pandemic. A way for the morning light to bathe us and ground us as we faced another day in uncertain times. It’s something from our COVID days that has stuck with us.

On most Saturdays, you will find us walking or biking or scootering looking for adventure and creatures. We have several different routes we take, one that includes exploring a nature trail at the back of the neighborhood. Last week, our seven-year-old concluded that we needed to so visit Grandmother Oak: a tree at the edge of one of our longest loops. Our three-month-old was sleeping soundly in her stroller, so we walked on.

When we finally caught up to him, his head was hung low. I asked him what was wrong and he just pointed, “They cut down Grandmother Oak,” he said sadly.

Sure enough, the big oak tree that stood prominently was gone. We had talked many times about whether Grandmother Oak was sick because her limbs were brittle and her bark was dark. How did he know to go check on her after months and months of taking different paths?

Maybe there is something within us all that feels loss when it occurs. Maybe there is a connection to grief and tragedy and injustice that weighs on our hearts and souls, especially when the loss doesn’t make sense. Maybe when we have space and time to listen, we know exactly where to go.

We climbed the hill and found mushrooms surrounding Grandmother Oak’s stump. There was still life around her and her stump looked healthy. Maybe resurrection will come and we will be able to watch Grandmother Oak come back to life. Maybe it’s enough to stop and remember her life and how she stood tall watching over the neighborhood.