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Viva los robles
This post is a fond goodbye to my bur oak branch.
I photographed its dormant buds last February and marveled at its brand-new bulging buds in April and its robust growth in June. I witnessed the aftermath of insects feasting on its leaves in September and the surprise appearance of an egg case in October.
And now it’s February again. A few weeks ago, half the egg case had already fallen off (the lowest bump on the left is all that remains):
Even though I plan to pick another plant to follow through the seasons, I might not be able to stop checking in on this oak tree. I’ll want to know if the rest of that egg case falls off and if the U decides to prune my low-hanging branch.
It’s clearly hard to say goodbye, and in a broader sense, I might not have to. Bur oaks are tolerant of, or resistant to, all sorts of invaders and hardships: drought, heat, cold, poor soil, insects, fire. They have deep, wide-spreading roots, and just look at that bark — it’s like armor.
Some of Minnesota’s tree kings — spruces, birches, white pines — might be deposed as the climate warms up. But bur oak — quercus macrocarpa — is expected to do well.
As for this particular tree? Spanish language students no longer file past it to attend class in Eddy Hall. It has outlasted a lot — the squirrel that planted it, the human culture that surrounded it as a seedling, countless dry spells and blizzards, and it will almost certainly outlast me.
Here’s a humble haiku triptych for this durable old tree:
no shaving cream today