For many of Oracle’s residents our Oaks are like cherished friends. They do so much for us in good times and bad, offering beauty and comfort year round, shade in the summer months and fuel in the winter. They also represent OTown with a friendly visual aspect appealing to the outside world in artist's renderings and community promotions alike.
We don’t offer much in return. Occasionally contributing to their health by directing and retaining rainwater and judicious pruning but, those virtuous efforts not withstanding, the pattern of drought induced dieback is pretty clear. We humans have to take some responsibility for that, or so 97% of climate scientists assert. Of course, diehards in OTown may deny human caused climate change as a major culprit but this is becoming more and more difficult as dead and down carcasses of emory and white oak increasingly dot our landscape and scientific consensus debunks the deniers.
For sure our oaks sometimes pose a threat to the health and safety of Oracle’s residents and neighborhoods - from fire, collapse on homes and other structures and danger to property owners attempting inexpert sawyering by way of remediation.
We just lost the last remaining trunk - one of six from the same root system - that once graced our property right out our front door. This led me to fire up one of my chain saws and start (carefully) clearing the path to our house.
If oaks could talk - and some folks think they can - they could tell the story of our town. And maybe they could offer insight into our shared future if we stubbornly continue down the road of business as usual we’re on right now. They might even render judgments on the humans who claim to “own” them.
Kaz and I moved to Oracle in 1979. The house we bought dated to the late 1940s. With little advance knowledge of the place, we set out to build a new life together, intending to settle in and raise a family.