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