I grew up just outside Chicagoland in southern LaSalle county, in a small town on the banks of the Vermilion river.
After World War II, my parents purchased a lot to build the family home. The lot was in an older neighborhood that had been built up prior to World War I. The lot was big and had several mature trees, including one very large and beautifully shaped white oak, the state tree of Illinois. There were many oaks, hickories, hackberries, and walnut trees in the area. Most were very large and perhaps some at or over 100 years old.
The oak in our front yard had a small cavity about 25 feet up the main stem. Over several years, an owl set up home there. Many nights I would hear hoots around midnight and knew our owl to be somewhere nearby.
Our oak produced a bumper crop of acorns every fall. My younger brother and I would fill up our Radio Flyer wagon with them (always to the brim!).
This tree never failed to impress, especially during the fall, with the most amazing wine-red foliage-- usually starting in early to mid-October and lasting several weeks. A few leaves remained on lower branches through the winter. When the wind blew through them a nice whistling noise was made.
Alas, my parents are now passed on and all my siblings, and I have moved away to other places. However, our white oak remains--which makes me wonder just how old this beauty could be.