We have Toomer’s Oaks on the campus of Auburn University again. Ten descendants of the original Oaks—venerated lineage, if you will—now stand along the Samford Park walking path. Restoration is a beautiful thing.
That’s all we’re supposed to think, I think. But, it’s easy to think other things. Had things gone a little differently—Ok, if things had gone much differently—two of these ten might have one day taken the places of their ancestors. That was the idea, of course. And, might the distinction between natural born and adopted Oaks cause some arboreal resentment? We better let the experts worry about that.
Speaking of experts, Forestry Professor Scott Enebak’s comments in the video below are rather insightful. He remembers his thoughts when the descendant program was started, and how it feels now for these trees to fulfill a different role.
What are we gonna do if something ever happens to these trees?
Enebak’s reflection is a nice reminder of something we saw back when Drs. Stephen Enloe and Gary Keever would tell us what was going on—that tree people really love trees. They more consciously appreciate what the rest of may take for granted: the significant, life-improving value that trees bring to the human experience.
We learned a great deal about valuing trees from the Oaks’ saga; or, I know I did. Whether cringing at the idiocy of they’re just trees, or anxiously watching the great lengths the task force exhausted trying to save them; and finally, seeing Toomer’s Corner without them—the last few years have changed how I look at almost any tree, and certainly any tree that looks remotely like a live oak.
Am I taking this too far? I think you know the answer to that.
We didn’t make as big a deal about these descendants being planted as we did about Valentines Day 2015. But these smaller trees, in time, will play the larger role in the legend of Toomer’s Corner. For they are truer models of the story’s message that the Auburn Spirit perseveres.