Tribute To The Inspiring Oak Tree At Oak Ridge

Courtesy of Dirt Man, taken about 1980.

 Ode To The Oak

Once upon a gravel road, now paved

prevails the symbol of Nelson strength;

Of love, courage, and hope engraved

upon the lives of the county’s length.

We acorns, to the wind, were tossed

as you stood guard upon the hill.

Some returned, some remain lost.

Still, alone you await in the field.

You stood for independence and rights

long before the declaration had been signed.

You flourished and soared to great heights

as your world and people redesigned.

Your mighty limbs sway with wind,

soaking tears of rain and warmth of sun,

and pull back into a prayerful bend

when the moon says the day is done.

In Celtic myth you are a tree of doors,

a gateway between another time or place.

To Soldiers returning from various wars

you were the salutation of a warm embrace.

In times that we could only frown,

you served as our Gilead’s balm.

You let us lay our burdens down

and returned us to the calm.

You’ve held our secrets and our dreams

in the heart of your hollowed soul.

Humble grandeur which one esteems

radiates from that verdant knoll.

The one far too young to say good bye

is in repose beneath the earthen floor.

Gazing upon a bright star filled sky,

he rests and dreams for evermore.

Seasons will invariably change

as the years continue to march on.

People and scenery will rearrange,

and life as it is will one day be gone.

For now you stand tall, broad, and strong.

You remain our tree of ageless grace.

What you symbolize is for what we long

with your timeless mark upon our place.

Is this not a magnificent tree or what?

Check out how massive this base is!

The limbs are larger than most tree trunks!

Many of the limbs are touching the ground and continuing to grow upward.

The Oak tree at Oak Ridge has been an icon for generations of Nelsonians. This majestic tree is the spirit of it’s people. It is an epitome of their strength and endurance. We have looked at this tree for hope, independence, and the possibility of all that life has to offer.

I don’t know the story of the Oak tree from the beginning of it’s time. I do know that in 1979, the Forestry division did an increment bore which determined the tree to be half hollow and well over 225 years old. That puts it well over 256 years. It is massive, gnarly, and stately.

If you grew up in Nelson County, you most likely have a story about this tree. This mighty Oak may have inspired you. You might have skipped school and swung by there or partied there one night. You might have made out, made up, or broke up beneath the cover of those monumental limbs. This tree might have been privy to the secrets you shared or the dreams you dared to dream. If only this tree could tell us the story of all it’s children, the stories that you and I lived beneath it’s watchful eyes and protective arms.

Though this sits on the private property of a grand estate, it stands alone and welcomes all who pass by. Owners past and present have shared this treasure with us. When we see the tree, we know we are home. This tree ties me to all I’ve ever been, reminds me of who I am now, and encourages me to be all that I can. The saying is that you can take a girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl…I rectify that to you can take a girl out of the county (Nelson) but you can’t take the county out of the girl.

Child Under Tree by Rockwell Kent, painted 1956 (This is the same Oak Tree)

Same Oak Tree as appears in Remarkable Trees Of Virginia

This is an entry for One Shot Wednesday.

50 thoughts on “Tribute To The Inspiring Oak Tree At Oak Ridge

  1. What a remarkable tree and a wonderful post. I loved this line in particular: “This tree ties me to all I’ve ever been, reminds me of who I am now, and encourages me to be all that I can.” What a lovely thing it is to have a physical reminder that connects you so tightly to your identity.

    Thanks, SuziCate.

  2. Where I live, in a city that has grown in population from 10,000 to over 110,000 in ten years, the trees are all new, just like everything else. I love old, established trees, what a history they have, what times they have lived through.

    Lovely poem SuziCate

  3. Stunning, beautiful, words, photos, emotion! WOW! Excellent work! Need I say more?!!!! Oh yes one more Awesome! =)) ~April

  4. Wow. I was left breathless and . . . . well, I am not sure . . . . I am still trying to grasp what this made me feel.

    Let’s just say it caused a lot of emotions. The pictures were stunning. The way the light played on the branches . . . . just breath-taking.

    The poem was a wonderful tribute to a life’s monument.

    This is a fantastic post!

    • Terre, thank you. It is just awesome to imagine the changes throughout all the lifetimes this tree has existed. In mine alone, it has been incredible. This was a favorite hangout during my teenage years, not just for me but for many others. It wasn’t like a big party spot, though I’m sure many kicked back a few, but a place of sharing and reflection.

  5. I must reitorate Terrepruitt’s comment and say that this post left me breathless – honestly!

    Betwee your words and magnificent tree photographs it left me in awe!

    LOVE the photo of the HUGE tree. OMG, it’s incredible, Suzi!

    Being a lover of trees, this post touched me deeply.

    (((( Trees )))))

    Thanks for sharing, dear lady!

  6. What a treat to read and view this post Suzicate.

    Like Kristen, I had a favorite line: “To Soldiers returning from various wars you were the salutation of a warm embrace.”

    As a student of history, I have always had images of soldiers returning to their homes and passing grand oaks–a silent witness for many generations.

    Thanks for sharing your powerful writing and the images.

    • Thank you. I realized by the age of this tree that it had been around for many wars, and I imagined the soldiers to feel the comfort of home in passing that tree as I do whenever I go home to visit. It is a monument to the people and the times of the county.

  7. Beautiful tribute to a magnificent tree.

    I’m sorry I haven’t been by, I’ve been preoccupied with pregnancy issues. Please know that I am very grateful for your kind support.

  8. This poem is so beautiful as is the tree itself. There was a magnificent oak tree just down the street from our house which fell over about ten years ago after a bad winter of rain. I so miss the impressive massive oak. They have since planted a new one but i am afraid i will not be around in a hundred years when it reaches its impressive size!

  9. “…a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; of a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces…. ” Thomas Wolfe Suzicate, your poem reminds me of that passage (that’s just the beginning of it) read long ago, a beginning to a novel that made me want to become a writer. Thank you for the memory.

  10. Wow! Way to go Dirt Man! That photo blows me away. Your poem blows me away as well. Truly.

    Here’s the deal with trees: they wash the toxicity out of the air for us and we do the same for them. It’s a symbiotic relationship and we need eachother. A miracle of life, and trees also offer shade! Can you believe it!

    I’m undone by trees. And you’ve added to my love affair. Thank you. Thank you. I’m pouring out gratitude here from the Grand Mesa which is a-fire with golden aspens in all their autumnal glory.

  11. “We acorns, to the wind, were tossed

    as you stood guard upon the hill.

    Some returned, some remain lost.

    Still, alone you await in the field”

    Loved those lines. 🙂 Also, MASSIVE tree! It’s stunning, and I can see why it would inspire you and other people.

  12. I’ve gotta admit, that is one awesome oak tree. Oaks are one of my favorites, although I always enjoy seeing really big, old trees like that, regardless of type. It’s humbling to think of plants outliving people.

    Great One Shot, SuziCate!

  13. What an amazing post. I love that tree and I’ve always felt trees hold a healing power that is hard to explain.

    I enjoyed this line in particular “You let us lay our burdens down and returned us to the calm.”

    Thanks Suzicate!

  14. A day of trees it seems. We have a tree here (at island over) that is over 1000 years old. Imagine my surprise that the pine in California is over 4500 years old. Little wonder trees fill us with awe and wonder. Beautiful lines here and well written. Thank you, Gay @beachanny

  15. What an incredibly beautiful poem, SuziCate! I love the breathtaking simplicity of your words!

    And Dirt Man is a mighty fine photographer. You guys are an awesome pair!

  16. Is there a way I can get permission to use the picture on the large oak tree? It is just so beautiful!! Thanks so much

    • Which photograph? I ask because the first was taken by my husband and I’d have to ask him. The second one is mine. What do you want to use it for? That also makes a difference. I don’t mind my photography being used online if it’s credited to me and linked back to my blog, but I’m not sure about the first photo until I find out where it will be used.

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