I have been admiring the color of an oak in front of the Germantown Public Library for the past couple of weeks but have never had my camera with me when I was there. Today I returned armed. I thought that the wind or the snow might have ruined the display but the old tree has hung tough, still holding its golden ruddy leaves high. I love how the veins have maintained their greenish tint.
Up close, the leaves are multi-shaded and as tough as thin leather. One year, when we lived in Miamisburg and had a Pin Oak (some French version that I can no longer remember), Mom collected the brown leaves at Thanksgiving time and used them as place settings, writing down names on each one with a black marker.
Our own oak at the end of the driveway, carried home almost 22 years ago, fools us with its display. The leaves - just like our Miamisburg oak - turn a lovely brown and taunt us with their tenacity. Then, with one particularly cold night, maybe followed by a rainy day, they all drop at once. I'd love to have an oak again that holds its leaves until the new ones are ready in the spring.
The other examples of oak we have here at Pinehaven were all collected from the nearby woods. They're natural to the area, offspring of the very trees that have been there for centuries, and they, too, hold their leaves until the last minute - until the weather gets too harsh - and then lose them all at once.
So what of the Germantown oak? It does the same. We watch a squirrel every year collecting acorns from this very tree and we saw him a few days ago putting away his last minute stores. The oak's purpose is more to the squirrel's benefit than it is to mine. I merely watch and enjoy; he dines.