Thoughts on an oak tree

August 7, 2008
By Joseph Miladore BRONZE, Canfield, Ohio
Joseph Miladore BRONZE, Canfield, Ohio
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Last spring my class took a trip to the Mill Creek Metro Parks Bikeway. Our purpose was to film a video featuring the bike trail and to find inspiration in a pristine environment. I was irritated that I had to spend my time taking this two hour trip, since Thursday was a beautiful May day, and I would have preferred to spend my time on the golf course. I was certainly not expecting to find much inspiration walking around a bike path with my English class. The temperature was comfortable, and there was a strong breeze that caused a rustling of the leaves. Some sunlight was peeking through even though there were clouds. At the beginning of the bike trail, the path was surrounded by grass and a huge farm. This was my first experience on a farm, and the smell of the cows and horses took me by surprise. There were two gigantic horses, one white and one brown, and I was tempted to jump on one of them and ride to the nearest golf course. As my group continued to walk along the bike trail, the landscape gradually changed from grassy farmland to trees, and these cast shadows over the concrete path. I began to feel a chill in the air and became bored because I felt that the trip was not accomplishing anything.
After about an hour of aimless video shooting, my group partners were worried that there would not be enough footage of the second half of the bike trail. We packed up our equipment and drove to Kirk Road, further down the path, in order to find better footage. I found little inspiration and began wandering aimlessly around a rest area. Surrounding the rest area were large trees, vending machines for the hungry, and restrooms for those who needed them. A couple of sweaty bikers who were relaxing in the rest area looked at our video camera suspiciously. We managed to capture a canopy formed from the large, leafy trees which covered the bike trail. The wind picked up, causing the tree branches to sway; this opened my view to a giant tree.
I was initially drawn to the oak tree because of its massive size. It was at least seventy-five feet tall, towering above the trees surrounding it. The tree was so tall that it almost completely blocked the sun, except for some sunlight that filtered through its leaves, making complex patterns of shadows on the grass below. I ran my hand over the tree’s smooth, dark brown bark. The sound of singing birds caused me to look up, and I saw the full green foliage where the birds were busily constructing nests. I almost tripped over the roots that were poking through the ground like an angry man’s veins protruding from his forehead. The ground near the roots was soft and marshy from Wednesday’s rain.
I felt awed by the sheer size of the tree, and judging from its girth, it must have been at least fifty years old. I began to think about all that the oak tree had witnessed during its life. Before the eleven-mile bike trail was created, railroad tracks had run close to the tree’s roots. When the tree was a seedling, it observed trains carrying steel from the steel mills. This regal tree had seen and survived torrential rains, tornados, harsh winters, fires, competition for sunlight, and pollution from those now-closed steel mills. The tree did not just survive those challenges, but it thrived to become the tallest tree, overshadowing the others which surrounded it.
As I was standing beneath its leafy canopy, I began to reflect on the tree’s journey to dominance. It started as an insignificant seed, but it slowly grew to a colossal size. I began to see connections with my own life. Because of my two older brothers’ accomplishments, there have been times when I have felt insignificant and overshadowed. I have found it difficult to distinguish myself from them and to define my own personal identity. But like the large oak tree that grew from a seedling, I suddenly realized that although some of my successes might seem small by comparison, eventually they will be noticed. Through perseverance and my ability to overcome obstacles, I know that someday I will cast my own shadow.

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