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):

Here’s how the egg case looked last October:

This winter there is no evidence of the moths that laid the eggs, of course, but another consumer of oak products sat hunkered down in the tree’s upper branches.

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:

whiskery branches

rub against a smooth blue sky










no shaving cream today