Living Among The Trees

Cauldron of Oak
My cauldron, filled with acorns, oak leaves, and a necklace of Land, Sea, and Sky

I was lucky enough to spend the morning in Lafayette. It’s heavily wooded, as many of the more affluent East Bay suburbs are, and at 11 on a Tuesday morning, I had the back streets to myself. It was finally Fall today. Cloudy and cool, and the streets are covered with oak leaves and acorns. I used to come here on days like this to collect acorns, as oaks are the dominant tree here. I chose three perfect acorns of three different species, scarlet, valley, and live oak. They are all three tasty, but processing acorns is very hard on the hands and these days I choose to save the limited use I have of mine for writing and music.

I thought, as always, of the wealth of this community. Between the oaks and the deer, how could anyone possibly starve here? Huge trees and huge yards for gardening. I heard more than one chicken singing egg song as I walked.

Oak in Lafayette
An oak in a yard in Lafayette

I saw redwoods as well, and as always felt a little sorry for them. They’re all in ones or twos, rarely a planned development has a forest of young ones planted. They try hard to form a forest, throwing out shoots all around themselves, but vigilant landscapers take care of those before they get too big.

Redwood with Shoots
A lone redwood trying desperately to build a forest

One potential mother of a grove was sly, throwing out a potential trunk high in its side. By its size, this one has been allowed to remain as it is far above eye level and growing close against the trunk. In the forest, a tree like this would produce a branch of trees, growing in the sky.

redwood mother
A redwood trying another way–growing a forest in the sky

When I got back to Oakland, I rode my bicycle through my own urban forest. The olives growing in the beds created by the traffic calming curbs:

Olive in Oakland
Olive in Oakland

The hawthorn a couple of blocks away, at the top of the hill:

Hawthorn in Spring
Hawthorn in Spring

The birches in front of the apartment building on 8th Avenue:

Birch on 8th Avenue
Birch on 8th Avenue

There are many others as well. The trees in my neighborhood resemble the people. Few of us are natives, but we have all made a home here. Except for the spreading oaks and redwoods, the only large trees are those that were planted on the grounds of the great mansions that were the first houses built.

What does your neighborhood look like? what trees do you share your home ground with?

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