When Old Friends Die

When Old Friends Die

Death always feels sudden, it seems, and no less so for a tree. Last night the dear old Valley Oak by the little farmhouse where Ramon and his family live, fell. The tree, at least 300 years and perhaps close to 500, lays shattered on the driveway. Although years ago a tree consultant told us that should it fall, it would not fall on the house, we were exceedingly grateful that no one was hurt and the house was undamaged. However, it crushed a car, the fence, and an olive tree, and broke two younger valley oaks on its way down.
But the thud reverberates all day. Yes, we lost our water for a while as the giant crushed a water pipe. The driveway is blocked. We are inconvenienced, for sure.

But mostly, we all are full of grief. This tree was a dear old friend. What changes it witnessed! We have found a stone mortar in the nearby field which may well have ground the acorns from this tree. Some of the first white settlers to the Napa Valley built the little house nearby and lived there for several generations. The nearby cemetery tells stories of those who lived here, one family losing 10 children, most aged two or younger.

Donald said the tree was so large that we almost didn’t notice it. It was home to squirrels, woodpeckers, and several wild bee colonies, one which is as stunned as we this morning. We will try to encourage them into a new home of a hive box. Donald called this a millennium event.

If we are all interconnected, what is the reverberation when an elder so old and so huge, leaves? Our first Biodynamic consultant encouraged us to balance the calcium (earth) forces of this particular Valley Oak with a maple (silica and cosmic forces,) a young tree which we planted 15 years ago in the corner of the yard.

As the shock wears off, I contemplate: what is the impact of such an energetic shift? And what do we need to do to mark such a passing? The Napa Valley used to be home to many of these giants, and now only a very few remain, this morning, one less.