Thursday, February 14, 2013

"A Grand Old Stump"

Howdy Folks,

There is a grand old stump just outside Kessy's barn, only a few feet on the other side of the fence. It's near where I scatter the chicken scratch each morning and the wild birds drift in for their breakfast of cracked corn. They are the birds I often mention in my Coffee Clutch stories. The birds who visit there vary slightly with the seasons, such as Juncos in the winter, Towhees in the summer. But the grand old stump is always there. It was there when we cleared the place for Kessy's barn and fence. From the looks of it, it had been here years before that.

Every morning chickens and wild birds use the old stump as a resting place while waiting their turn at the goodies. Squirrels, too. Almost every day a Chickadee, Junco or Wren will poke its cute face out the stump's only hole facing the barn. It always brings a smile.

The old stump is of good size and while I have no true way of knowing, I'd guess it must have been over 200 years old when it was felled. It was certainly here for the Battle of Appomattox during the Civil War. It would have been a good sized tree even then. Did weary soldiers rest beneath it that hot and brutal week?

It takes a lot for an acorn to grow to a massive oak. Simply surviving its first winter is a challenge. Deer love to browse the tender shoots of young oaks. In fact all the early years are a struggle for any sapling. From surviving the random deer browse or trampling hooves, to pushing ever upwards toward the sun under a canopy of tall trees blocking life giving sun's rays. But somehow this oak managed to survive and thrive throughout those early years.

Was this old stump once one of the few oaks left to stand in fields here to provide shelter from the sun's sweltering heat while the farmer worked his crop? Did it provide a welcoming shade to a man and his horses? How many birds, squirrels and raccoons raised their families in its massive spreading branches? I remember one time counting five different species of birds nesting in the same oak that towered along a blue bird trail I was monitoring

Surely it was witness to many changes throughout the countless years it stood regal and proud. Living surrounded by other oaks, poplars and hickories in a forest only visited by deer, foxes, bear and birds, to standing alone on the edge of a tobacco field. From seeing no human to watching the forest cleared all around by humans. The woods have grown back now, surrounding and sheltering the stump.

Today, the grand old stump watches the birds, our chickens, Kessy and all of us. It joins us each morning for Coffee Clutch and I wonder at the stories it could tell. Its spirit lives on.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry


  1. There is a very large oak down the street from us, that stands sentry duty along our little country rd. I pass it often while riding my horse. I often think, what kind of story that regal tree could tell if given the chance. Its wide spreading branches cover the entire street giving refuse to the squirrls that are often rummaging around under it, looking for a tasty acorn that they may have missed.
    There is another one in our pasture woods that is just as big, but alas, time, and insects have taken their tole on this mighty tree, and with each passing storm we loose a little more of it. The top, long since dead is beginning to fall from a towering heigth. I`m sorry to see this big guy fading away, it looks so sad.

    1. Anon, It is wonderful to be able to enjoy the great trees and think about all they've witnessed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Hi Dutch! I liked this post about a grand oak tree and its history. When we moved into our home in 1990 there was a huge stump in the back yard. This house was built in 1910 or around there and I was instantly sad that someone had chopped it down. The other yards surrounding us have huge trees and I know ours would have been very large as well. Oh well. I wish it was still there.

  3. Thanks Patti, thrilled you enjoyed it! ... Yes these old trees do give us pause to think, don't they? And aren't we happy they do? That's why that old Oak was so important in my novel.