An oak stands out among many trees on this December 1st, 2017, not because it is incredibly tall or has a large trunk. It isn’t that it has a great number of saplings breaking through the soil from a previous year’s effort. It is because its leaves are still green, an amazing number of them, even though for miles one can see no other like it.
A few cold nights followed by warm temperatures and high winds have driven all the other oaks visible to me into dormancy. Leaves have mostly been stripped off the trees; those that remain are just as brittle and lifeless as those piled upon the ground. But this oak, this oak with green leaves, is still showing signs of life. “How many hundreds of thousands of trees across the Cross Timbers could not achieve what this one tree has done?” I ask myself. There must be others, but how rare they must be; rare indeed it initially seems.
With Thanksgiving now past, I am learning to remember by the day how rare some aspects of life truly are. It takes a trained eye to notice what most take for granted: to see a tree for its individuality in the forest, instead of a forest full of trees. How many do we pass every day that go unnoticed, if for no other reason than because of the limited capacity of our senses? I suspect more than we will ever know, and perhaps it’s for the best. Some rarities would never be the same without anonymity, and who would want to destroy that?