Our generous Earth has gifted us with boundless beauty. It is all around us for all to enjoy. I recall a special day when I was driving; it was one of those sparkling-clear-blue-sky days of Arizona, when I looked up at Camelback Mountain as if seeing it for the first time and marveled at its unique beauty.
I am touched when I see a tiny flower push its way through a crack in a dusty sidewalk or a crevice in a rocky canyon. I am in awe of the stately Saguaro cactus, standing tall and ageless like a sentinel. When going to Sedona, the first glimpse of the red rocks is breathtakingly beautiful. Our little part of the Earth here in Arizona is blessed to be the home of the Grand Canyon, a treasure to the world.
I am deeply grateful for all this beauty but my special love is for trees. I notice their shape and size and color when I take a walk or ride in a car. My family always planted trees when we moved into a new home, and I still recall the sad lament of one of my sons: “Just when our tree gets big enough to climb, we have to move!”
There are a number of trees that have had meaning for me; three live oaks are particularly meaningful ones. When I was young, growing up on a Texas farm, my sister and I rode our old retired farm horses. On one ride we passed a cultivated field where, in the middle of it, stood a huge solitary live oak tree. We often rode over and sat in its inviting shade to rest or have a picnic lunch. It has stayed deeply etched in the memory of my childhood days. That would be my number one favorite.
My nephew and his wife owned a farm not far away where my other two favorite live oak trees stood. They were truly giant-sized and were said to be eight hundred years or more old. My folks saw them in 1905 and they said they were as big then as they are now. Five men stood fingertip to fingertip to reach around the widest part of the trunk of the largest tree.
One tree has a strong limb outstretched that is perfect for swings that generations of children have enjoyed. Several weddings have been held under its lovely canopy, as well as countless family and friends’ gatherings.
My niece, now widowed, is of the third generation of this family to live on this land, and feels a solemn responsibility to care for and preserve these magnificent giants. They have survived so much for so long: storms, heat and cold, drought and blight. Their roots go deep as do those of the people who love and live on the land, so caring for these trees seems an obligation to ensure that others to come can enjoy them as well.
I had been married for many years when I felt a strong desire to see, once again, the tree in the field of the Texas farm that my sister and I had enjoyed so long ago. My husband and I found the narrow dirt lane where once I had ridden a small red bus to school. Off on a side road we came upon it — “my tree!” It was still there, alone and solitary, but to my amazement — tinged with a bit of sadness — it was just an ordinary live oak tree, not at all the huge one I kept in memory all these years. But it was like visiting an old friend.