Ancient Giant Meets its Maker!

In February, fearing for the safety of the building, our landlord made the decision to cut down our noble oak!  The tree was over 12 feet in diameter, and was one of three ancient oaks that provided shade for our little corner of town. It had lived since the time the Miwok and Mono Indians were the sole inhabitants of our valley.  It  witnessed white settlement of the area, California's brief independence and ultimate statehood, and the growth of Oakhurst from a tiny town called Fresno Flats.  Needless to say I was worried.  There was only about a foot and a half of clearance between the tree and the walls of the gallery, and any mishap could have been a disaster.

The tree was cut on Saturday, March 31st.  It fell with a terrific crash, exploding into a thousand pieces.  Chunks of wood shot twenty feet in the air, and a choking cloud of dust billowed out over the area.  To my horror the tree rolled to the right, into the corner of the building, crushing  the trim, jamming the door, and putting a series of horizontal cracks in the interior walls. The weight of the trunk cracked the concrete porch, and put half a dozen dents in the asphalt of the parking lot, some more than six inches deep.  A steel sewer grating made out of 1/2 inch thick steel bars was bent by a falling limb as if it were made of clay.  Despite the damage, everything went pretty much as planned, and nothing went wrong that could not be easily repaired. The dust settled, and the crowd converged on the mass of shattered wood and broken limbs like a victim at a murder scene.  Upon counting the rings we discovered the tree to be about 140 years old, younger than I had expected, but still an impressive age.  

After the rumble of cranes and the jarring rattle of the chainsaws died, I felt sad and emotionally drained.  They say that the only thing in life that is certain is change.  When changes occur it is best to accept and embrace them, rather than becoming trapped by the inevitable sense of loss.  Nevertheless when big changes come along it is natural to feel a bit out of sorts, sad, or angry. Now, as I look out the window, the clean-up work is nearly done.  My door is repaired, and the bulk of the rubbish has been cleared away.  The only reminder that a giant oak once shaded the building is an impressive stump.  The building looks naked and rough around the edges.  Black plastic flaps in the breeze over the holes in the roof that were cut to clear a path for the tree to fall.  Although I know it was the right thing to do for the safety of the building, and for the people who work here, it saddens me to lose one of the heritage oaks that gives Oakhurst its name, and gave a unique character to my business.  

Old news can be good news!

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