Old Oak Tree

Old Oak Tree

Old Oak Tree 2012

This stately oak has been a sentinel in this field for a very long time.  It stands guard across Thompson Road from the farm house where I grew up.  On winter days when the snow pack covered the driveway, we would sled or ski down its steep grade to the intersection of the road.  That driveway was steep enough that often my parents would have to back up half way to the Clark complex to get a run so that they would have speed to climb up the grade.  They would have to be careful not to spin out at the mild turn upwards to the house.

Skiing

Skiing c. 1954

In the winter there would be a pond to the right of the Oak Tree that would form from the snow melt when it occasionally warmed up.  We would ice skate if the surface got thick enough.  Once, I built an ice boat out of my American Flyer Sled.  I had a step into which I placed a mast with a square sail located in the front center of the sled.  Then I would haul it down to the little pond to race across it with the wind whipping on my face; at least in my day dreams.  Inspired by the Lake Geneva Ice Boats, I imagined a greatness that failed to materialize.  The wind blew, a little; the sail filled, a little; and I sat there on my sled immobile.  I did this for several years until I went away to Lake Forest Academy where I learned of many things.  The idea might have worked with real wind on real ice on a real pond.

Lake Geneva Ice Boats

Lake Geneva Ice Boats 1966

In the Spring, I would sail the model sailboat I had built when I was about 9.  It did work nicely skimming across the water; jibbing when the timer flipped the tiller; and sailing back to where I stood in my rubber boots.  That was a joy.  All these memories were captured by the Old Oak Tree as it watched over my childhood.

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