Pardon me while I wax eloquent about a tree.
In the front and back of my house are two big live oak trees. We recently had one of them trimmed which made me look at them with fresh eyes. I don’t think I appreciate these trees enough. They are big and strong and tall. Their roots go deep; hurricanes, storms and floods have come, but still they stand.
I’ve been told these trees have been here since the house was built in 1963. There are a few pictures in family photos where those trees in the
background are half the size they are now. Me and those trees, we’ve really grown up together.
The trunks of both trees are so big around I can’t wrap my arms around them. Even the branches are thick and strong. Whenever the wind blows strong enough, those huge limbs move with grace and ease like they’re just enjoying the dance with the breeze. They even give a little creak as if to add their own tune to the song of the winds.
When hurricane Harvey came, those trees did not break; I’ll never forget looking out a small handhold in one of our windows when the storm was at its zenith, and seeing them sway in the wind like rubber bands.
That was when it hit home for me just how serious that storm really was. That was the first time I was really scared. Yet for all there twisting and swaying, that tree held strong. When the storm was over, both trees had barely lost a branch while several others in our neighborhood had fallen over.
Their strength is because their roots go deep. Contrast my trees with this tree
Called the Buttington Oak, this iconic tree was one of the oldest in the United
Kingdom. Planted in the year 893 in commemoration of a Welsh- British allied victory over invading Vikings, the Buttington Oak stood as an iconic boundary between England and Wales for over 1,000 years.
Standing in the center of a field several stories tall with a girth of approximately 36 feet around, it was truly an impressive sight- before it unceremoniously fell after a mild storm struck the region in 2018.
You might think it fell due to mere age, but tree experts agree it could’ve stood for centuries to come if it had been properly maintained. There was no reason for it to have split in half due to a relatively dinky storm but the truth was no one had ever properly maintained it. In centuries past, locals had sawn off branches to use for tools and timber. You may think that sounds harsh, but that pruning helped to keep the tree healthy; when high winds came, it did not have so much heavy brush still on it to make it top-heavy which helped it to withstand storms. Taking off excess wood is a must for any tree's health. But no one had done that maintenance for decades, possibly centuries.
And this tree needed all the pruning it could get. You see it was what is called a, “pollard”, meaning it was deliberately planted in a place it would not normally grow. In the case of the Buttington Oak it was planted in an open field near a river that has a high water table and floods regularly. Oak trees do not naturally grow alone in land with such a high water table.
Due to this wet environment the tree never had to struggle in search of water, so it had shallow roots. Since it never had other trees around it, there were no other roots for it to entwine its own onto to hold on when storms came. So in 2018, a mild storm hit the region, the wind caught in the dense, untrimmed branches, the tree swayed and bent, and since its roots were shallow and it had nothing to hold onto, it buckled under the storms pressure, toppling over, roots and all.
I tell you this tale of two trees so you know just how valuable a pruning is. It hurts, but sometimes it’s needed for overall health. You need to have the harmful parts of your life cut away before the rot spreads. You need some struggle and even drought in your life to make sure your roots grow deep, so when storms come, you will bend but you will never break or bow.
I promise you a storm is coming. There's always one around the corner. Ask God to prune away everything unneeded in your life now. Dig your roots in deep, so when you see that storm on the horizon, you can straight up laugh at it.
Bring it on.
Kinda like in this song by the great Steven Curtis Chapman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1L6_Rn-nB4
If I ever get enough money together for the tech, I would love to make an animatic of this song. It deserves it. :-P
Sources used for this Post-
Blogpost TreeSpect.org- https://treespect.org/2021/01/17/buttington-oak-fallen/
BBC Article- https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-43084088
Monumental Trees Website- https://www.monumentaltrees.com/en/gbr/wales/powys/7903_fieldnearbuttington/15828/