The Old Oak Tree

So silently the brown thorn adorned branch from the old oak tree from whence it had fallen waited for the anticipated arrival of your footsteps. Within a blink, your toe stubs itself on this same branch. It begins to throb it begins to swell as it turns purple. The branch stays hidden in the background though not refraining from snickering, seething, sneering, and smiling from what it had done. Time marches with you as the swelling subsides exactly when it was supposed to. Those thorns that branch, that tree, your toe intertwined interwoven inconspicuously. No curiosity from the bushy-tailed gray squirrel holding its walnut while casting a solitary glance down at you as it rests comfortably on its favorite branch.

The magnificent old oak tree was a fortress in which birds could plant their nests as they built their own family while being shielded from the harshness of heartless inhumanity who lust after this special tree that has all the earmarks of big profit potential. NO! The leaves must turn green every Spring while wildflowers grow, dispensing a pageantry of color as if it were pleading “come look at me.” I am the old but surreal strong Oak tree.

Undaunted by the relentless whirring as branch after branch and limb after limb the Old Oak tree is cut down it continues to stand mightily in the place it had always been and will forever more be. The legend has it that these branches led the good, the kind, and the righteous up to heaven after their souls separated from their temporary residence where the creator of the world anxiously anticipated their arrival. When it was confirmed these weary bodiless souls had more that had to be done down below the oak tree reached up cradling them in its bosom to reunite them with their physical forms. The worldly-wise oak tree had performed this ritual from the time it was first needed by man.

Ring-a-round the Rosie,

A pocket full of posies,

Ashes! Ashes!

We all fall down.

Our lives run along with the time we spend in it are in unison with that Oak Tree. Our roots entrench themselves into the ground nourished by the morning dew along with rain that falls from the skies above.

When the cheerful innocent eyed children played their game of encircling each other they hugged as they pranced around the old oak tree while simultaneously falling down to each other’s delight.  If you looked up at the silence you would be visually captivated by an image of the highest branch dancing around its own branches mimicking the children it so dearly loved.  In the still of the night when the brightest star was shining a voice that seemingly originated from nowhere crooned its own version of famous children’s nursery rhyme. And if you closed your eyes real tight (no peeking) slowly shuttering open your eyes you will incredulously see the tree was in the only spot that it has ever wanted to live. And so it has lived just as it has given life.

Our lives run along with the time we spend in it are in unison with that Oak Tree. Our roots entrench themselves into the ground nourished by the morning dew along with rain that falls from the skies above. Our branches spread out as do the wings of a bird. Each branch we build with each leaf that grows upon it that gives shelter to our birds signifies our physical growth along with our knowledge of the ways of the world.

“Ya’ know that old trees just grow stronger

And old rivers grow wilder ev’ry day

Old people just grow lonesome

Waiting for someone to say, ” “Hello in there, hello”

The old big black crow who has seen it all while knowing all caws his medley of symphonic songs as he zeroes in for a landing on the old oak tree. For sure he has been there before. For sure he too has called that tree home.  A crow though he may be called but being a big bodied bird they also know him as the feared raven. His feathers may be shaggy but never are they unceasingly sloppy.  The raven stalks its prey with one swoop his deed is done. The raven with its finely chiseled beak slanted sinister eyes has reduced many a pair of legs into quivering masses of wasted flesh.  Quoth the raven nevermore-Edgar Allan Poe. Old crow watching from a tree

Old crow watching from a tree.

He’s got his hungry eye on me

In my garden, I’m as free

As that feathered thief up there-Garden

~Song By Pete Seeger

That Old Oak Tree is symbolic of the umbrella we hang over our families to protect them from pillage just before the deluge. Each new branch brought along with it a new family ready to expunge itself to enter the world knowns as humanity is not humane to humans.

My children, your children, our grandchildren made tree houses way atop. They climbed in while avoiding the call to come down. There was safety inside those wooden walls partially constructed from wood that was unceremoniously cut from another tree that did not have to die. No, not for this.

The sight of the willow tree swaying back and forth while in accompaniment with its partner the Old Oak Tree. From where we get life from where we leave or embark on our painfully slow journey upwards and upwards still.  Be it doom or be it gloom the secrets of which are bound in the tree never to be released.

This tree may stand alone but it is never alone for it invites and provides for all that need. A mere mortal man only sees an old oak tree but nature sees it as it really is. A lonely wooden tower that spends higher and wider than anybody can see. The brightly burning yellow sun is blotted out by branches that cluster together to keep the light all for their own.

While in the midst of a snow-white winter the old oak tree does not shudder nor shiver. The soft fallen snow may weigh down its branches but only low enough for it to reach the earth to write its message of disdain for all that do not respect it. Adding intrigue is the question of what is being hidden under all of those layers of snow that neatly blanket parts of the tree but not its bark hardened by time and seasons of doom and gloom.

The seasons that surrounded this tree were many. Somewhere mild and gentile while others lashed the tree with hurricane force wind while water is hurled right at the heart of the tree. Those winds blew through our thin bones while that magnificent majestic tree stood tall and mighty. We must live our lives standing tall and mighty.

New flinch never fear. Don’t bow down to false fabricated idols that were created to serve only those whose minds not yet molded. The tricks our dearly beloved parents taught us a lesson that tricks are only such that they play on you.

Fly birds fly. Fly the hawk. Fly the owl. Fly the hummingbird. Fly the raven. The pretty parakeet that lived amongst other parakeets that were ripped from their homes, their families only to die alone in thin metal wired cage. Fly the parrot before he is put on display like a painting in a museum. Taunted and tormented each of the most minute minutes until his spirit is broken.

Soar with your soul. Fly to where you never flew before minus the mighty machines that permeate while polluting the air we breathe. Go take your children. Take every branch that makes up your tree. Take them to a place where trees, families, and nature lives as one. Join in the love for the aromas of the flowers that smell so sweet while holding the key to treasures that are not what they seem to be.

Who are we?, Where are we, How did we get here? Where do we go from here, What awaits us on the other side of the velvet curtain we conjured up in our minds. As can a split from a direct precision strike cut through a tree or a bush like a knife through a yellow spotted banana.

We are, we are, we exist! We are the tree! Apples, pears, plums may entice us but they will never be removed from an overstuffed plastic bag that may find its way into the ocean once so blue. Our legacy must not be one where all that was good and did good was no longer good.

This piece was about children, growing up, the beauty of nature and of course our own questioning of ourselves. It was about life or life as we think we know it.


Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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  1. What a remarkable tapestry of poetic thought-process and a well-calculated lesson you have woven in here, Joel Sir; it is just R E M A R K A B L E! Thanks a Million, for this wonderful portrayal with an even deeper meaning to learn from nature what life of plenty may never teach us.

    • Bharat,
      Thank you so very much for your heartwarming comment. Coming from somebody like yourself who has such great intellect not to mention being a great writer in your own right makes your statement that much more powerful and meaningful. Thank you for taking the time to read my article in addition to adding sunshine to my day. Be well and thank you again.

    • It is really very generous of you, Joel Sir, to heap so much praise on me. My biggest regret, at this time, is that I do not have enough time to gather all the pearls of wisdom you send my way. Please allow me to read your highly praise-worthy articles at my own pace, at least during my vacation. I promise I will gather speed before too long.

      Thank You, with Warm Regards!

    • Bharat,
      I am anxiously awaiting your return from vacation. Please feel free to read my articles and comment at your leisure. There is no deadline or a set amount of time that you have to read my articles. I have a great deal of respect for so henceforth, please read my articles when you have time. There is no rush nor a deadline. Your latest comments were very touching. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Enjoy the rest of your well deserved and I imagine must needed vacation. Be well and stay well.

    • Larry,
      Thank you for your very uplifting comments. I am always buoyed by comments such as the one you wrote as sometimes I lose confidence in myself. Poetry has been a love of mine for many years even though the only two poets I have paid attention to were Robert Frost and Dylan Thomas. Fold music has so much poetry woven into that it rubbed off on me. Please forgive me if my comments are rambling in nature but I finished this article at 4:30 am this morning after battling the subways who live to mix up the subway routes on the weekend and spending the bulk of the day with my wife who is in the hospital. Thank you again, Larry. You have been a big inspiration to me while unknowingly serving as my tutor.

  2. Joel as I read your story, I kept imagining the Big Oak in Thomasville, GA as the source for your inspiration. Because of its age, I have to believe it has a legacy spanning many generations and cultural events.

    . Even President Eisenhower visited this historic landmark while a guest in Thomasville and was so impressed he photographed it himself!

    One of the largest Southern Live Oak trees (Quercus virginiana) east of the Mississippi, the Big Oak (c. 1680) has a limb span of over 165 feet, a trunk circumference just over 26.5 feet and reaches 68 feet in height. Thomasville’s Big Oak was one of the earliest members of the National Live Oak Society, registered in 1936 as the 49th member.

    • Jane, thank you for taking the time to read my article in addition to posting your fascinating (meant sincerely) comments. I hope all is well with you.

    • When I got to the part where you talk about taking your family, I remembered the Big Oak. I tried to photograph the tree , but it was impossible. Even standing a block away from the trunk. It’s branches are now held up by huge cables. Like we need to support and hold up our families.

    • I can imagine how difficult it must have been. The analogy you put in at the end of this comment was brilliant!