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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