Gnarly Ancestral Oak Going Strong after Three Centuries


from Janaia’s sketchbook © 2013

Like a guardian spirit (do you see her watchful eye?), this Ancestral Black Oak welcomes us as we enter Bearhaven Meadow at Lone Bobcat Woods near Round Mountain in the South Yuba River watershed.

She is nearly hollow, perhaps from a long-ago wildfire. If you look up from inside, you see daylight at the very top. But the huge knurling side pillars keep the thrust of life pulsing above— witness the little green branch above. She is a survivor.

She and other ancestral oaks ringing the meadow were surely cultivated by the indigenous Maidu people. They prized the richly nourishing black oak acorns. They ground the acorns at the nearby bedrock mortar and pestle, and leached them in the year-round spring.

Several oak Elders have come down in the past few years. One has a ring count of over 300.

We are grateful for her presence, and for her fallen and still standing Elder companions.

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