What Kind of Nature Are You Trying to Preserve?

“He who owns a veteran bur oak owns more than a tree. He owns a historical library, and a reserved seat in the theatre of evolution.” – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Greetings. You know me as Quercus macrocarpa, or bur oak, although the people that once gathered my fruits and nurtured my young here called me piksi. We were once the most common tree of this region and the backbone of ecosystems that supported many kinds of plants, animals, insects, fungus, and bacteria. My fruits once nourished deer, elk, turkeys, passenger pigeons, prairie chickens, and people. Everything is different now. A single family of squirrels are the only recipients of my bounty. The people that live here no longer eat my fruits, tend my branches, or maintain a landscape in which I or the kind of plants and animals I support can thrive. You see, we oaks love sunshine. We can not grow or reproduce in the shade. Look around. Sunlight no longer reaches the ground.

Notice my fractal geometry, perfectly evolved to capture sunlight. Feel these scars on my trunck where my limbs once spread out into the surroundings, turning the sunlight into food, and sending water from the earth back to the sky, cooling the ground below.  I am dying.  Maple, ash, locust and buckthorn have crowded me in. Without sunshine, my once-strong limbs have withered and fallen. The cool breeze from the lake no longer blows through, and the stifling humidity of the summer stresses my vascular system making it difficult for me to breath. These leaves sprouting from my trunk are my last gasp for sunlight. Since my seed has found no sunshine, I am the last of my kind here. What kind of nature are you trying to preserve?