The Old Oak Tree

It should have been a cold, dreary, foggy day but it wasn’t. The sun shone down brightly from a clear azure sky. Shortly before 8 a.m. trucks rumbled into the driveway, halting just inches from the split-level house and the tree beyond. 

Oh Yes, The Old Oak Tree

Oh yes, the tree. The tree situated just beyond my back fence at the Grieb Farmhouse. That’s the reason for all the commotion.  Several days before, the neighbor had received the bad news from an arborist that the old oak tree must come down. Its center was filled with dry rot and termites. It was now a safety hazard. She was heartbroken, as the grand old tree was one of the reasons she purchased the house.

The Take Down

Four Men Were Up to the Task

Four men, strong, fit and agile were up to the task of taking down the beautiful, graceful tree.  Armed with ladders, long-handled pruners, chain saws, ropes, hydraulic bucket lift and a crane; these men were ready for action.

In spite of the fact that taking down the tree was upsetting and depressing, it was fascinating to watch the men expertly orchestrate this huge take down.

Two of the men effortlessly ascended the immense tree, and with their equipment, systematically and methodically brought down the twigs, branches and smaller limbs in a circular fashion for safely reasons to prevent injury to them, the house and the balance of the tree itself. Another man hauled branches to the grinder and the remaining man fed the branches into the machine. All the small and medium branches were removed, ground up or sawed into big logs.  At days end, the old tree’s skeletal frame was still standing naked and tall against the sky. A sad sight to see.

Loss Brings Thoughts of the Past

The loss of the tree brings up thoughts of the past, the history of this living tree that has survived wind, rain, drought and floods during its 150 plus years of life.  It played a part in the Grieb family history as it was one of the original oak trees on the Grieb Family Farm established in circa 1872.  It represents a piece of the original landscape. It also represents the strength and resilience our ancestors had in carving out a rewarding and prosperous life through labor and hardship. Going back further in time, it provided shelter for pioneers and its’ acorns food for the Chumash Indians. Birds and animals nestled in its ample branches. Children were drawn to climb and play on the sturdy limbs.

A Stump and Heaps of Sawdust

Just a Stump Remained

The final workday of the tree takedown, the workers tediously labored to remove the largest limbs. The crane assisted in lifting the heavy limb sections into the truck. The workers’ expertise and experience made the daunting task seem so easy. At the end of day two, all that remained of the magnificent, ancient oak tree was a stump and heaps of sawdust. At the end of its life, the tree was estimated to be 60 inches in diameter with limbs 30 inches around. The tree lived over a century and its’ life ended in only two work days (14 hours of tough physical labor).

Perhaps a New Oak Tree

Sandi Erickson Ferrio and The Old Oak Tree

Without the stately tree, the yard seems bare and open, but bright sunshine bathes my yard. Light pours into my windows and my view is expanded from a few feet to a few miles. I can see Mt. Picacho across the valley. All that physically remains for me, are several slices of a smaller limb that one of the workers kindly left for me, neatly stacked in my yard. The tree is missed, but who knows, maybe one of those plentiful acorns will root itself and grow into a new living oak tree for future generations to enjoy. Life goes on. The tree is gone, but our growing family tree will thrive and survive.

Written at the Grieb Farmhouse by

Sandi Erickson Ferrio, Great-granddaughter of Konrad Grieb

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