As it turns out, the middle was not rotten. I started counting the rings on the trunk, pondering on decades when the rings were wide and healthy, then a cycle of tight bands so narrow they seemed to run on top of each other. What did that say about eras of flood, drought, heat and cold? Which years were the brutal ones, and did they correspond with tough times in human history? I gave up counting the rings at a little over 100.
Instead of grinding the stump, we decided to memorialize the tree by making a bench out of it. Two wedges of trunk form the back rest. It’s the perfect natural resting spot for a smoker or someone who wants a private chat after quiet time, several yards from bedroom windows on our Victorian home. We hope to create a little garden around the stump seat, a burst of beauty in tribute to a majestic tree.
We’re already working on replacing the oak. I like the idea of getting one of the newly developed blight-resistant American chestnuts, but I learned there’s a waiting list just to get a seed. Maybe a hickory would do. We welcome suggestions.
On your next visit to the Asheville area, come by our bed and breakfast and see our newly light-filled yard with our memorial oak bench. Enjoy the feel of history.