The old oak tree that blew over in the storm last week is gone. The last pieces of trunk and limbs were removed yesterday. A first counting of the rings indicated an age of 126-plus years. That is a long time to stand watch.
But, is that really the way to assess the age of a tree in the front yard of a home? Wouldn’t it be better to count its age it by:
- The number of bag swings that had hung from its branches,
- The number of kids who learned to drive circling its trunk in the family jalopy when daddy wasn’t home,
- The number of newlyweds who came to visit for the first time and met the family under its branches,
- The number of gatherings after funerals witnessed,
- The number of picnics served in it its shade,
- The number of young men come home from a war being hugged beside it, or
- The number of stories, some of them possibly true, swapped around it?
Sometimes it seems we may be overly occupied with the passage of years instead of the missing of opportunities.
There was an aura about that tree. Under its branches, time moved differently. I call it “Wattensaw Time.” It isn’t measured by the passage of minutes but by the fellowship generated. Once, after a long weekend of working around the place, I started to go home to Little Rock when I was told that I should stick around for, “We’re going to eat in a few minutes.” It was noon by regular reckoning and I was lured into the aura. We sat down to dine at 6:30 p.m. That is Wattensaw Time and how delightful it can be when one ceases to resist and simply gives in to its temptations.
The photograph below may, just may—we don’t know—show an few of the branches of that tree. The time must have been near 1926 or so. The man is Phillip Socrates (pronounced “suh-crate-eese”) Deal, civil war veteran and family patriarch. “Daddy Deal” they called him. More about him on another day.
For right now, let us just pay our respect to old things of all species. Getting there is a privilege that destiny doesn’t afford us all and we should cherish and respect it.
Even if it means living on Wattensaw Time.