Still Learning To See


There were few Red Oaks in Central Vermont when we moved here 40 years ago. They are now a prominent part of the forest in many areas—mostly spread by squirrels, Blue Jays and people. We’ve planted many along our streets because—despite the possibility of Oak Wilt—they are quite rugged.


New leaves of Northern Red Oak



Next fall, this is what the leaves will look like against a blue sky!

I could count the White Oaks in the area on one hand, literally, until 15 years ago when a local college and our Montpelier Tree Board began to plant more of them. The ones that grew prior to that were 100-year old or more specimen trees that had clearly been planted in special places.


“Grampa’s Oak,” a White Oak (here being hugged by our dear friend Julia) that grows on the land my father-in-law’s grandfather farmed in Manchester, Michigan, is similar in size and stature to a handful that have long grown in Central Vermont.This tree is probably close to 200 years old—about half of what it could live to be.

Nearer Burlingon, where the temperature is moderated  by Lake Champlain, groves of ancient, immense native White Oaks grew. Sadly few remain, having been cut for timber or, more recently, by developers. If you happen to be at the shopping mall in Williston, Vermont, called Maple Tree Place—seriously, not a single native Maple on the place—one of these grand White Oaks remains, thanks to a push by the local zoning board, and is well worth stopping by to see (in red circle below), even if it is painful to see the surroundings.


We now have some wonderful Pin Oaks, Swamp White Oaks, a number of amazing Burr Oaks and one English Oak, all joys to behold any time of year. All tend to keep many leaves throughout the winter, possibly a throw-back to a more Southern heritage or some other factor.


The new acorn of a Burr Oak is both formidable and beautiful.

The young leaves of both Red and White Oaks are just opening this week and many individuals are flowering—such lovely sights!


The catkins, male flowers, of Eastern White Oak are ready for the wind to spread the pollen to small, inconspicuous female flowers.


New leaves this week of White Oak. An old farmer’s adage was when the leaves of the White Oak are the size of squirrels ears, it is time to plant corn.




This entry was published on May 19, 2017 at 6:45 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Oaks

  1. Deborah Leu on said:

    Wonderful oak images and history. I enjoy hour comments as much as your photos. 🙂

  2. Dianne Shullenberger on said:

    Love the information and the images. See you this afternoon. D


  3. Paul Hartmann on said:

    Wonderful post, thanks!

  4. Julia on said:

    Love your connection with trees, John–and you do the oaks proud in this post. It was an honor to hug the Parr Oak–so glad it has endured. Thanks so much for your pictures and words–to think of the great oaks leafing out each spring for hundreds of years is the kind of faith I understand. I once wrote: “Think of it: year after year, trees change with the seasons and teach us that no matter what, the cycle of life goes on. When I put my cheek against the bark of a tree, I can feel all those years inside, especially if it’s a huge oak tree. I think of their long, slow memories—so when I hug them, I’m hugging all that past and future—all those years before I was born and all those years that will continue after I’ve returned to the earth.”

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