Another Lesson from the Oaks

Over the years, I’ve learned so much about living well from the oak trees. If you remember, I learned about holding your ground from a little fortune cookie, about our perfect timing compared to others when my oak wouldn’t drop her leaves, about what to do with bitterness from the day we made acorn flour, and about how to reconsider God’s work in your life when it looks like chaos and abandonment.

Recently, I began to wonder about this sign in my neighborhood:

What’s Oak Wilt? Why can’t I prune until November? What does it mean to dress or paint wounds? I conduct a little research, and I learn that one should never prune an oak tree in spring or summer. The sap released when you prune will attract certain beetles that carry a terrible fungus causing the deadly “oak wilt.” This fungus will kill a beautiful oak tree in just one season (and sometimes in just one to two months!).

So you prune in winter. In winter, the beetles stay dormant. In winter, the sap won’t ooze to seal the wound or attract any disease carrying bugs. In winter, the leaves disappear and you can see what you’re doing. You have better vision.

I consider what it means to make big, pruning kinds of decisions in life. I think about waiting for clear vision, about choosing a time and space that’s best, about picking a time where I’m most able to heal from any losses. The oak tree undergoes change best in November.

When do I undergo change best?

I remember that living with flair means waiting for the best time for change.

(And it means having fun as March drags on. Last night graduate students made a giant snow-woman named Phyllis!)

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