Oaks: An Appreciation

By Nolan Marciniec

Among oth­er ancient peo­ples, the Druids of the British Isles held the oak to be sacred and cer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly gath­ered mistle­toe from its branch­es. In the New World, many Amer­i­can Indi­an tribes col­lect­ed acorns, grind­ing them into meal. Colo­nial Amer­i­cans used the oak’s tim­ber for every­thing from ship­build­ing and fur­ni­ture, to bar­rel-mak­ing and pro­vid­ing a warm and long last­ing fire through the long harsh win­ters. The keels of Amer­i­can mine sweep­ers and patrol boats in World War II were laid in white oak – some of it came from FDR’s estate at Hyde Park.

Of all the trees in the for­est, the noble stature of the oak has been per­haps most inspi­ra­tional. Lit­er­a­ture abounds with trib­utes. Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem, The Oak” is one of the most famous:

Live thy life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in Spring,
Liv­ing gold;

Sum­mer rich
Then; and then
Autumn-changed,
Sober­er-hued
Gold again.

All his leaves
Fall­en at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough,
Naked Strength.


Fall 2015

Volume 33 , Number 4

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