The Old Oak Tree
In the front yard of the house we raised our three children in back home in Richmond a huge old oak tree graced a spot next to the driveway right outside our den window. It was one of several trees we chose to keep when the property was cleared to build our first new house back in 1964. I loved that old tree.
My three children along with the neighborhood kids rivaled the squirrels for its branches to climb and to play on. One of them mastered the high-rise unicycle at an early age by mounting it while hanging from a branch and riding off down the road.
In 1991 one of my daughters who was in her last year of nursing at Radford was also serving in the reserves when her unit was called up to go to Saudi Arabia. From the day that unit was called to go overseas a yellow ribbon with a huge bow was tied around the trunk of that old tree and remained there even after the war ended. It seems we were always waiting for someone to come home.
In the fall it would produce an abundance of acorns to feed the squirrels. In the winter its stark branches accented by the light of the moon stood silhouetted against the starlit sky and sparkled like diamonds when ice and snow fell detailing every branch to perfection.
Spring found its branches dressed in green leaves so thick that by the time the weather got hot, it shaded the house from the summer sun. But my favorite thing was sitting by the den window and listening to the swishing sound of rain on those leaves as it fell gently to earth. It always left me with a feeling of peacefulness even in my not so peaceful times.
One fall day while picking up leaves here in the woods just for the fun of it, I came across an oak tree that reminded me of the one back home. I picked up several of its leaves and brought them home and pressed them between the pages of a book. Although New Castle is a long ways from Richmond, oak leaves are still the same and so are the fond memories they conjure up in my mind which I hold close to my heart.