The magnificent Grandmother Tree at Bouverie Preserve has been a source of admiration and a sentinel for many -- our staff, docents and visitors alike. Recent storms resulted in a significant crack in the main stem of the Grandmother Tree. The photos below show the cool peep hole and the massive branch above the hole. The crack is at the base of that branch, which means the whole tree is unstable. Working with an arborist, we determined that this major crack, combined with cracks in other branches, and the fact that the tree has been suffering from heart rot (probably for decades) means bracing the tree will not preserve it for much longer. We have made the difficult decision to fell the tree.
A few feet of the main trunk will remain in situ so kids (and adults) can count tree rings, etc. And we will endeavor to cut some rounds for seats from the branches. The rest of the tree will remain on site, pushed over into the grassy area to the south to provide habitat.
Director of Stewardship Jeanne Wirka found Mary Oliver’s incredible poem “The Oak Tree at the Entrance to Blackwater Pond” to be a good reflection of the moment. Our thanks to docent Ron Berchin for capturing Grandmother Tree in all her glory one last time.
The Oak Tree at the Entrance to Blackwater Pond
by Mary Oliver
on my way to the pond
I pass the lightening-felled chesty hundred-fingered, black oak which, summers ago, swam forward when the storm
laid one lean yellow wand against it, smoking it open to its rosy heart.
It dropped down
in a veil of rain,
in a cloud of sap and fire,
and became what it has been ever since –
a black boat
in the tossing leaves of summer,
like the coffin of Osiris
upon the cloudy Nile.
But, listen, I’m tired of that brazen promise: death and resurrection.
I’m tired of hearing how the nitrogens will return to the earth again,
through the hinterland of patience –
how the mushrooms and the yeasts
will arrive in the wind –
how they’ll anchor the pearls of their bodies and begin to gnaw through the darkness,
like wolves at bones –
what I loved, I mean, was that tree-
tree of the moment – tree of my own sad, mortal heart- and I don’t want to sing anymore of the way
Osiris came home at last, on a clean and powerful ship, over
the dangerous sea, as a tall
and beautiful stranger.