THE OTHER DAY, I made a short entry about trees.
The one that came to mind was Luke Shafer’s mighty oak. It was located on the west end of Woodmen Cemetery in my little home town. My mother tells me that in earlier times, the tree stood on the east side of Shafer’s pool. The Baptist church used the pool for baptisms. Lost his and several more of this size due to drought and disease.
Here’s a picture taken of the Shafer’s mighty oak on July 30, 2011. Some time before its demise.
While I didn’t have many close encounters with the Shafer, I did visit a lot with another mighty oak tree west of town. The one I’m talking about stood near the corner of U.S. 82 and U.S. 259 just northwest of the overpass.
Beneath its canopy was a dirt parking area. I spotted many work trucks under the shade in the middle of the day. Usually, there was someone in the cab leaned back taking a nap.
I, myself, took a nap or two in the cab or my truck under that tree. For no real reason other than the fact I could, since I lived two miles away.
One of the most beautiful trees I ever saw though was in downtown Houma, Louisiana. A group of 12 of us had gone to New Orleans and took the long way back home to where we lived at the time at College Station. Houma was our lunch stop and I remember its mighty branches, swollen with the age of at least 300 years.
Actually, now that I’m looking at a map of Houma, I see that it was actually multiple trees. The canopies tangle together in the air to fool the memory I suppose. I see now that this display is just off Main Street in front of the Terrebonne Parish Courthouse, a block south of the Bayou Terrebonne that flows in the middle of town there.
The Texas A&M Forest Service keeps a record of the biggest trees in the state. Right there on page 6, it shows the Bois d’Arc tree (also known as the Osage-Orange) champion is rooted in Bowie County, as of 2013.
Despite having the biggest, another community to the west has designated itself at the Bois d’Arc capital of Texas. Commerce, Texas even went as far as naming the second largest tree “Big Max.”
The farther west you go from East Texas, the shorter and thinner the timbers seem to appear. Try driving from Lubbock eastward on Highway 82 and you’ll know how close to home you are by the height of the trees.
Back in high school, I had determined that somewhere around Paris, Texas was where the tops of them were at what I would believe to be a comfortable height.