Friday, May 28, 2010

The Oak Tree

There is a large Oak tree punctuating the tree line that marks the starting of the wooded part of our backyard.

The large Oak tree, in the days of past, must have been one of many old oak trees , scattered around the woods lining the lake on the eastern side of our subdivision, waking up in the spring to the chatter of chipmunks, the calls of the blue jays, falcons and the flock of migrating loons that return to the marshes surrounding the lake.

The tree must have witnessed on one eventful spring, a fleet of bulldozers that came in and cleared out a part of the forest to make space for two score of scattered homes , one of them ours. The large Oak Tree that once nestled in the cozy comfort of the woods now cautiously guarded its border with the civilization.

The start of the tree line overlooks a sloping hill that rolls down to our grassy backyard. The view and shade from the tree line made it a perfect spot to place a hammock.

Out of the two trees that were selected for the hammock, one was a River Birch and other a young Oak tree adjacent to the large Oak tree. The large Oak tree would almost crane its neck and peep through the small tree as I glanced up through the hammock , its leaves rustling with a cautious and reserved countenance.


One of the summers, I started flying model airplanes. Back in India, I used to be a big fan of flying kites. Kite flying transcends passion in some cities in India. The skyline in these cities gets dotted with thousands of colored paper kites, bobbling and swaying in a colorful dance. Men, women, children line on the terraces and open spaces, almost possessed eyes gazing on the small dot connected to the other end of the string.
The red polyurethane aircraft modeled like an old biplane, was my kite today. The RF control my invisible string, as I fixed my gaze at the model biplane.

I could almost feel like the plane as I soared higher and higher .. over the house, over the treeline .. when suddenly a gust of wind blew the plane out of control. I tried desperately to steer it back but just as I adjusted the roll to steer clear of the trees, a large branch of the large Oak tree , swinging in the wind, plucked the plane out of the air.

It was not the first time my aircraft had got stuck. Our neighbors had spent a lot of bonding moments retrieving my planes from the top of their roofs. Most of the times, I stood with a home made contraption made with duck-taped sticks, on the top rung of the largest available ladder. Fishing for the plane as my and neighbor’s family provided directions .. “little bit left” and “little bit right” , kids clapping when the plane was finally retrieved.

What worried me today was that the last time my plane was stuck in a tree, I could not get it back. The plane remained suspended through the summer and winter. A mocking reminder as we could see the plane clearly amidst the tree line. I checked every day from the windows overlooking the backyard, hoping that the plane will rescued from its prison by a gust of wind one day.

The plane’s dilapidated carcass was finally handed over by the tree during a blizzard almost after a year. That tree was only half the size of the Oak tree that had claimed my biplane today. The plane was lodged in one of the topmost branches which was impossible to reach.


As I stood below the Oak tree , I noticed for the first time, how big it really was. Looking at the number acorns scattered near it’s perimeter, it was clearly in it’s prime. The red biplane swayed far above.
My son and daughter who are my co-pilots , arrived on the crash site and longingly looked up.

“It is stuck” , said my son “ One more plane gone”.

“We can still get it” , I said.

“How ?” asked both of them.

“Just ask the tree to return it”, I said smiling.

My son walked up the tree and touching the bark, said something to the effect “Mr. Oak tree can you please return the plane ?”

It was getting late; we got back into the house for dinner.Me and my wife took a quiet stroll along the woods after dinner. Since the sun sets late in summer in this part of the world, there was still quite a bit of light. I remember that the air was calm and there was no wind. Near the trunk of the Oak tree, lying on the ground was the red bi-plane.

“Thanks Mr. Oak tree ”, I thought as I picked it up and ran towards the house to share the news with my kids as my wife watched me with amusement.

The Oak tree has never been cautious and reserved since then.


TN Nagpal said...

Reading your stories reminded me of RK Narayan (its a compliment). Keep it up.

Varsha said...

Beautifully written. Very simply told, but shows the closeness of your family.
Writing and sentences have improved since the first blog, if I may say so.
Great going.Am looking forward to more tales.

Prithviraj Banerjee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Prithviraj Banerjee said...

Thanks Uncle .. that is indeed a great compliment. I will try my best to keep writing.

Aunty thanks for the feedback - I have started proof reading before I post :)

banved said...

My favorite story!

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