The Indian Tree
January 30, 2012, 8:59 pm
Filed under: January 2012
Looking East into the Wetlands

January 30, 2012

     In the center of the photograph is a big white tree. It is a very old sycamore. Long before I was born, beavers must have chewed upon the tree. They damaged it down low causing a place for rot to take hold. The old tree stood on the bank of the creek where I surmise that a fire licked at its trunk and started the rotted place to burn out.
     This tree is probably close to one hundred and fifty years old. It has a diameter of almost four feet. She is well over ninety feet tall with massive branches that provide a large amount of shade. The bark is modeled white and easy to see even in the dark. The burned out hollow place is almost four feet wide and six feet high. It looks like a teepee.
     When my boys were small, I created a special story about the old tree. I suggested that perhaps indians had burnt the tree so as to provide a quick shelter on a cold night. Maybe even a young indian boy lived there for a whole season as he stepped into manhood. Perhaps it was just a stealthy place to hide when hunting deer or small game. I let their imagination run wild with wonder and not fear.
     I could have said a haunt lived there who ate the heads of little boys. I could have told them pirates hid treasure there and would shoot anyone brave enough to lurk around. I could have said terrible wild animals lived there that would tear their bodies apart…. But I wanted them to have good memories and feel safe anywhere on this farm.
     As my boys grew, we always called this tree “The Indian Tree”. It was like a beacon. Once in a while small boys would get turned around in the woods, but The Indian Tree would show them the way home. On rainy nights following a coon hound around the woods in dim light, The Indian Tree would give comfort and confidence to teenaged boys, who weren’t supposed to be afraid of the dark. This old tree grew with the boys each gaining something from the other.
     My boys learned to respect nature because of things like the Indian Tree. The old tree should live until nature calls her back to its bosom. I know my boys will not cut it down. In fact, my grandchildren know about the Indian Tree and share its many secrets. So the tree will send down seed every year, protected by the next generations of storytellers.
     When I walk the woods, I always pause a minute to look at the old sycamore. I am reminded of little boys who became men, playing in the shade of her massive crown. I am thankful for her white bark that showed my boys the way home more than once. I am grateful for the memories we share together.
     I hope this farm stands in our children’s lives like the old tree stands in the forest. Like a beacon showing the way home no matter what, no haunts, no pirates, no wild animals… just love and safety…. I hope that I am like the white bark, shining the light in their lives and pointing the way home………

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