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My Tree

John W. Pinkerton


My house, our home, is pretty much a plain vanilla pier-and-beam wood frame house built in the early part of last century.

After we bought the place, I dressed up the front porch with different posts and some gingerbread, but there’s nothing exceptional about its outside appearance.

However, the property does have one exceptional feature, a post oak tree whose limbs cover the front yard and a lot of the roof.  The tree’s circumference near the base measures over ten feet.

I don’t become very emotional about nature.  I grew up playing in the woods of Louisiana, but it didn’t infect me with the love of nature.

However, I’ve become a little emotional about this old tree.  It has become an old friend, and I’m pretty  protective of it.  On a yearly basis, Linda and I squabble a bit about whether or not to trim the limbs which hang above the sidewalk forcing passing folks to duck the low hanging limbs.  Usually I give in to Linda’s wishes and okay the trimming...although it pains me a bit.

I once saw a photo at the local museum of our house and this tree when it was about four feet tall.  Today it’s about  fifty feet tall.

It stands within about five feet of the window next to my computer desk at which I’m writing this essay.

Of course birds stop in this big fellow for a moment.  Our cats use it as a safe haven from dogs and dangerous cats visiting our property.  The cats climb the rough oak bark of the base and lounge on the larger limbs which cover the sidewalk leading to the street.  When they want down, they navigate the limbs until they are only a few feet above the ground and jump.  The tree must be a favorite of the local squirrels because I often see them in pairs chasing each other around the circumference of the giant oak.

I grew up in Louisiana among giant trees, mostly varieties of oaks and pines and cypress trees.  I didn’t realize how much these giants meant to me until I moved to Somerville, Texas.  The trees are smaller here.  Although we get a decent amount of rain, it’s not nearly the amount which cause the trees of Louisiana to grow to giant proportions.  It probably took me about fifteen years before I came to the point that I wasn’t pained a little by looking at what appeared to me to be trees with stunted growth.

There are a few large oaks in Somerville, but I don’t believe any of them combine the size and shape that our oak does.

The neighbor had three good-sized oaks in her yard when we first moved here.  They all three died at the same time.  I was worried about my oak.  I’ve heard a lot about an oak disease which has been killing these trees, but my research says it’s probably the results of erratic weather patterns which include drought.

In my research on oaks, I found a number of diseases which kill oak trees in Texas: oak wilt, hypoxyon canker, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, and oak decline.  The names alone are enough to give one the shivers.

Somehow our old oak has avoided all of these so far.  I suspect that one reason this tree has survived and thrived is that the property flooded for many years.  Of course the water would drain off in a few hours, but the ground definitely got a good soaking.  The city corrected the flooding problem several years ago.  I’ve always wondered how this would affect our tree.  So far, so good.

Of course, each winter the post oaks lose all of their leaves.  I usually have to supply our yard man with about fifty leaf bags to sweep all of the leaves in to.

As spring approaches, I get a little anxious waiting for the leaves to return for another year.


They began to show up a few days ago.  It looks as though our old friend will be with us for another year.