Monday, April 21, 2014

Last Dance at Two Oaks

In 1991 I moved to San Francisco to attend grad school. Shortly after my arrival I met a man who has been my close friend to this day. He had just moved from the City up to a ranch in Sonoma County. I've trekked up to the ranch scores of time. Many, many changes have taken place there over these many years, the old rundown property littered with rusting machinery and overgrown fields has been transformed. Permanent structures have replaced decrepit ones, a new now decades mature pond was added. A garden and fruit trees have been planted, parts of the land have been returned to nature. But what always stood as the anchor to the scenery were two massive oak trees.

We've partied and dined under those trees; meditated and mediated. Stories have been told, philosophers have been derided. Several relationships have bloomed and a few have faded. But always the two sentinels stood watching.

Just two days ago we had a small gathering at the ranch. A delicious slab of salmon was grilled on the same hearth where beef and pork, chicken and turkey have crisped over the years. We spoke of how the space had once been canopied by the two surviving walnut trees, one now gone and other refusing to leaf out this spring in what will be its final season.

But always the pair of giant oaks towered above it all.

When they were last trimmed by the arborist, he said the far oak, the one that had lost the huge section about ten years ago, it was weak. It might last another hundred years in that condition. It did not.

I got a call only hours after I had returned to the City. A great crash in the night had claimed the towering beauty. The ranch and all inhabitants survived, there will be more gatherings in the future; but going forward they will be under a single oak.

Art: Landscape with Two Oaks by Jan van Goyen

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