In my home town it is said that there is one of my relatives living on a farm in every hollow and that would be pretty accurate. My Uncle Jack was no exception, a road builder by trade, his true love was farming.
His farm, 40 acres or so, sits in the valley between two hills. About 20 acres of that is a big field stretching back from the paved road to the trees that boarder Dutchers creek.
Dead center in the middle of the hay field was a giant cedar snag. It was a monster of a tree, true old growth some 7 feet in diameter at its base. It stood there as long as I can remember arching against the prevailing wind with not single bit of green anywhere to be seen.
At the local restaurant where the towns men liked to gather for coffee on Saturday mornings he often took a ribbing about the tree. They called him
But there was a suprise in store.
Jacks wife was always trying to get him to cut the thing down as well. Not that it was hurting anything but it wasn't exactly pretty. It had been dead so long that it didn't even have any limbs left for the hawks to perch while scouting for mice in the field.
Jack always refused. He said someday it would green up, it did, after all, still have it's bark. His wife would role her eyes, smile and say nothing. No one but Jack ever believed that cedar tree would come back.
Time passed, Jack got sick, and finally died one winter. The cedar snag still stood a lone gray sentinal in a field of green.
The following spring much to everyones suprise the ceder tree sprouted green leaves, not many but enough to be visable from the road. Tough old loggers and fishermen shook their heads in wonder. The tree had come back to life.
Each year the tree produced a bit more green a little further up the trunk until nearly half of it was covered with small living limbs. This went on for ten years.
Then one hot and windless summer evening as a bunch of us sat on the porch of the old house enjoying the remnants of the day there was a mighty crack echoed through the valley. We watched as old tree fell to the ground. The thump when it hit felt like an earthquake even at a thousand feet away. Just like that the ancient tree was gone.
On inspection it turned out it was hollow, only a ring of about a foot on the outside was alive.
There is a new little cedar there now growing in its place, fed by the rotting roots of the old tree. No one knows when it sprouted but its been visable from the road now for some five years.
I don't get back home as often as I should but on my way there I pass by Jacks old farm. I cannot help but look out where the big old cedar once stood and remind myself the we just don't know all there is to know about life, somethings like that old cedar will always be a mystery.