There are several large old trees outside this cabin I write from within. As I stare at one of them, trying to connect to something I want to write about, I begin to imagine the tree to be a connection point between infinities. From the carbon dioxide in the air that it inhales to the oxygen that it gives off. From the minerals in the ground that it takes in with some assistance of mycorrhizal fungi, to the conversion of those minerals that along with water contribute to a seasonal year's growth. But that only begins the story of those old trees, doesn’t it?
Many use those trees for shelter. Right now there is a squirrel sticking its head out of a hole within a knot. Its home, too, exists because of a tree. Over the years here, I’ve watched many a bird make a nest within a variety of trees, and the variety of insects that travel the pathways across and between the bark in a tree’s lifetime are far too many for this author to count.
Trees don’t stop providing when they die either. The walls and furniture in this cabin are constructed from wood. Raccoons love dead, old, hollowed-out tree trunks, and if it weren’t for chopped wood, this cabin would have to rely on heat via electricity during the cold days of the winter. And when I think about it, what would the termites eat?
Limbs provide great hunting platforms for humans and hawks alike. Then there are the leaves, the variety of colors can be down right amazing to observe as they change at growing season's end.
Trees across this ranch provide food, as well. I am kind of partial to the pecans that grow here, but I notice some of the animals enjoy the acorns and hickory nuts. Don’t even get me started on the native plums, persimmons, or planted fruit trees that either continue to grow or have been grown here in the past.
Dominant varieties of trees here include the oaks, cedar, hickory, pecan, bois d’arc, mesquite, and varieties of what some call “scrub-brush”. Look closer and you’ll see the elm. I know of one mulberry tree (not a “bush” but a tree) that grows on the ranch. I once walked beneath a bois d’arc here with a cousin trying to pick out the best limb to make a bow from.
Shelter, fuel, food, and oxygen; just a few of the things those trees have provided me over the years. What have we provided them?