Monday, September 17, 2012

Hail The Harvest Home – make time to celebrate the oak and the acorn

The mighty oak has, throughout the centuries, been the subject of story, song and proverb.  Held sacred by many pre-Christian cultures, the majestic, long-lived oak was considered the most powerful of all trees and many religious rites were performed under its spreading branches.  More than 80 species of this beautiful tree are found in North America. Red Oaks and Swamp Oaks dot the landscape in and around Bishop Hill. All oaks are deciduous trees with toothed leaves and heavy, furrowed bark. The fruit is, of course, the acorn. 

I have always revered this tree; to me it represents strength, history, and tradition. As crazy as it sounds, I maintain a personal relationship with many oak trees in my neighborhood. I collect acorns from my favorites each season to plant as I travel. This time of year you will find acorns rolling around in my car, my purse, and my pockets. It’s just something I’m driven to do. 

When my daughter married, the wedding favors she offered her guests were oak seedlings planted at the time of her betrothal. Later on, when she moved to Peoria, I became enthralled with a grand old burr oak living in her vicinity. Known as the "sentinel on the bluff," it is estimated to be over 500 years old. Surrounding it is a few acres of lovely parkland on High Street. I find the acorns from this tree to be especially prolific!
A Peoria Landmark

This leads me to recommend a special story to read as autumn descends: A small book, simply written, originally published in Vogue in 1954, The Man Who Planted Trees, demonstrates the great difference a single insightful individual can make by adopting a consistent, determined effort. The author, Jean Giono, writes a moving story with a contemporary message about a shepherd who, over a lifetime, mends his barren corner of the world by simply planting acorns! The original published prose is enhanced by the woodcut illustrations of Michael McCurdy.

Though not new, I recently discovered a fantastic video of this story posted on YouTube. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Short in 1987, this little masterpiece is narrated by Christopher Plummer.
So read it here or watch it below – you will be glad you did. You may even be inspired to plant an acorn or two yourself!