The tree stood for many generations and seen many family photos taken under its boughs. It shaded us in the summer and cooled the screened-in porch. It served as the best possible support for baby swings with its branch that jutted out parallel to the ground. It provided a place to lean water skiis and paddles after a long day at the beach. And then it was gone.
Some people said this oak--white or red, I’m not sure--was the biggest in southwestern Michigan. It would take three people linking arms around it to reach around the whole width.The tree had been there so long it grew into the roof and gutter. When a large branch fell on the roof of the little cottage that was built in the 1920s, the gaping hole had to be fixed. The whole house needed work, and in the process the tree was removed. Though the renovations were welcome and long overdue, the changes and the loss of the great shade tree meant the cottage would never be quite the same.
I cried the first time I saw the whole tree cut down, with piles of sawdust all that was left. It was a lifelong friend, and we don’t get many of those. It was a steady companion, and now there is just bright glaring sunlight.
The best I can do is to plant an oak in its place, but it won’t be the same for generations. I just hope my kids remember swinging and laughing on the shady porch the way I always will.