Jordan and I spent a couple of days on the old family "farmstead" last weekend. We were clearing some brush and trying to see what it might take to get it back in shape for living there (in the event I ever retire ... ). I must admit, it was good to be back there -- a place the folks used to call "down home" - if even for a short visit.
Suffice it to say we found things a bit different today than the way they were back when I was in my teens and spending my summers there with Grandpa and Grandma.
The old house Dad built many, many years ago is now completely gone, with nothing to show it was ever there except the faint remains of the footing where the foundation once sat. The well house is still nearby, but the pump is gone and the small structure itself needs major repairs (or replacement).
The hand built stone wall that once indicated the boundaries of an old barnyard has fallen into disrepair, with breaches here and there and stones scattered about.
The underbrush has stretched the perimeter of the wooded areas further into the open fields, and finding an easy way into the woods is now a complicated chore due to the proliferation of briars, saplings, and low-hanging vines. The lanes once used as driveways from the county road onto the farm are now overgrown and almost indistinguishable.
Yes, things have changed, as well they should. Life is full of change, and the world is constantly changing around us. There is one thing, however, that remains and has more-than-likely been there since long before I ever stepped foot in Stone County, Arkansas.
In the middle of the one-acre woodlot that separates two fields of hay stands a magnificent giant Oak. Its massive trunk sits atop large roots that help stabilize the heavy limbs that stretch out like long, muscular arms across that area of the lot, forming an umbrella-like canopy and reaching into the bright blue sky above.
To some it might appear to be just another big tree. And that may well be.
For me it stands as an heirloom of sorts; a strong chord tying the past to the future; a connection between my ancestors and my descendants; a "home tree" of sorts.