Having begun our married life in a cabin high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where the pines and aspen grew thin and the dirt was dry, then moving to the plains of Nebraska where the sky was huge and the Cottonwood trees shaded us from the hot summer sun, it feels like it has taken these full three years that we have been here in Oregon to become intimate with its landscape. It really has only been since we moved onto the farm last year that the land took on a familiarity, that the natural surroundings began to be a part of me. And just as there have been token natural objects in the past that have connected me to a place….the Platte River in Nebraska which held my hand through so many joys and sorrows, or the eyes of the Aspen bark and 14,000 ft summits in Colorado which continually reminded me of the wildness of that place….here too, a piece of the natural world has become a symbol to me of my home, no longer new now that I have gained this intimacy.
Here, it is the White Oak. Our farm is blessed with quite a few very old and mighty White Oaks. It is funny to me now that it is these trees that have taken on this role of connecting me to this place. To be honest, when we moved onto the property last year, I wasn’t that taken with them. I complained of their awkwardness. They weren’t beautiful in any picturesque well rounded or elegantly pointed way. They did nothing to provide us with a shady spot to laze under. Of course I appreciated their age, and understood that we were lucky to have them on our property, these old native oaks; but I had a two month old baby and boxes to unpack, and I didn’t take much time to get to know them last year.
As winter came and they lost their leaves, I finally took more notice. Naked, the oaks truly looked like old men, like the wise sages who owned this piece of land we had come to inhabit. I began to gain the proper sense of respect anything that had seen the earth for so long deserves. They welcomed our winter bird population with open arms, they even looked graceful holding the snow.
Now summer is back, and even though we have barely begun to put down roots here on the farm, the oaks have taken us in. We have a hard time believing that this property had no fruit planted, no shade trees around the home, so little flowers, no herbs–nothing–when we moved in. But we have these oaks. And as our meadow grasses go to seed, all slightly different with hints of purple or pink or gold, and the blackberries put on their show of white blooms, I let the beauty of my new place in the world soak through my skin. It feels so good to be a part of this place