The Tree That Stands Alone











For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves.

And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons.

Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk:
in the rings of its years,
its scars,
all the struggle,
all the suffering,
all the sickness,
all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written,
the narrow years and the luxurious years,
the attacks withstood,
the storms endured.

And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is.

That is home. That is happiness.
~ Hermann HesseBäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte










Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.
~Winston Churchill









A wind has blown the rain away
and blown the sky away
and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand.
I think, I too, have known autumn too long.

~e.e. cummings












Trees are Earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.
~Rabindranath Tagore














Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
~Walt Whitman










I don’t know why, of all the trees that peppered this hill over a century ago, this one was spared.  Perhaps she was the tallest at the time, or the straightest, or just didn’t yield to the ax as the others did.

She has become the sentinel on our farm, a focal point:
the marker by which all else is measured.

She is unchanging as the backdrop of clouds and seasons, color and light shift and swirl.

Visitors climb the hill to her first before seeing anything else on the farm, to see the expanse that she surveys.  Her branches oversee gatherings of early Easter morning worship, summer evening church services, winter sledding parties, and Fourth of July celebrations.

This one special tree stands alone, apart from the others, but is never lonely – not really.  She shares her top with the eagles and hawks, her shadow with humans and other critters in her century-long vigil with people all around the globe in these photos.

Never lonely — no, never.

This is her home.  This is happiness.















8 thoughts on “The Tree That Stands Alone

  1. i understand your connection to the tree, and every reason you note. i am happy that you have had such a sentinel to watch over you and yours for so many years. what a generous gift you have been given! may it last in the lives and hearts of all your family (and guests) for ever….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When will you publish a book of these glorious photos?

    When an ancient oak began to lean on the roof line of our Maine cottage, we had to cut it down. We drove a thick disc from the trunk atop our station wagon to our NJ garage. Decades later when we moved to CT, we paid movers to move the slab. Just this year I found a woodworker who made bowls for my siblings and children. So although its firewood is long gone, and the base of the trunk has been worn away and occupied by chipmunks, the spirit if the oak will endure.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Sally,
    thank you for your encouragement to put these photos together? I’m not sure about a book, but maybe someday when I’m not working 60 hour work weeks…

    Your oak story reminds me of the black walnut that fell in a windstorm on the farm years ago, milled and kept until we were able to remodel our little farm house, and now the cabinets in kitchen and bathrooms. The tree lives on, touched many times every single day of our lives.



    I watched her in the storm with ferocious winds, howling, gusting glances off her trying to break her back. Her uppermost branches bend nearly double. Rain and more rain tries to loosen her roots. She stands tallest and almost alone. Watching, I tell her, “Stand tall, you were here before any of us. We need your vigilance, your steadfastness. You need to stand tall for the eagles. Stand tall.”

    And I knew I was supposed to listen to Sister Tree but when worrying, the need to do “something” is stronger and so worrying became the doing.

    Finally, I listen as her boughs creak her wisdom. “Yes, I have seen much. Yes, I have been standing taller each year. Yes, I provide shelter for the birds and vista for the eagles. I have withstood much. Join me in standing tall, providing shelter and vista for those that settle in your branches. There is still much to withstand. We can do it better together. Stand tall in rain, buffeting wind, heat and cold, even freezing adversity. Stand tall.”

    And so, each day now Sister Almost Lone Tree and I meet the day, whether sunny, rainy or windy, hot or cold and together, stand tall.

    Liked by 3 people

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