Over the past several years I've spent time thinking about trees. When you stop and think about trees you realize their greatness and the stories that emanate from their branches. Did you ever wonder how and why a tree looks like this?
Let me tell you a quick true story, well mostly true. When I become famous some day I don't want to get called on this. There was this kid, student really, who grew up on the east coast and traveled west to the University of Oklahoma to study weather way back in the early 1980s. He didn't own an automobile so he spent all his time on campus. Why would he own a car since all needs were in walking distance in the village he came from. That's what he was used to. And what a beautiful home town it was as he lived right on the water with it's victorian beachy houses and gorgeous "larch" tree lined streets. Coming to Oklahoma was quite a change. Things were different in Norman. No water, not many trees and over all more spread out. He didn't get around much except to class, the meteorology building and back to 4 West Walker.
Now this kid was not your ordinary out of towner. He was in the sooner state for a reason for a purpose. He loved weather and was driven by "he didn't know what" to get a meteorology degree no matter what. He wanted to become a meteorologist, a scientist. And he eventually did but not without many many long miles of storm chasing.
Let me tell you storm chasing back in the 80s was like a religious experience. All alone, just the three of them, himself, the storm and God. Could you imagine no other chasers on the road, no computers, no cell phones, no one to call if you had one. You probably can't.
While on the road, out of protected areas, the kid noticed something though. Something with the trees. He never saw trees like these trees before. Trees back home were tall, straight and pleasant to look at. These trees looked dead but were not. Trees half bent over, with scraggly branches and some appeared broken off. But still there was life in the trees. In fact, many had buds if not green leaves flapping out in the wind. These mostly short stubby trees were not dead but alive! How could this be?
Well if you haven't figured it out yet that kid was me. It has taken a long time for me to finally think about Oklahoma trees. I mean really think about them. If you believe a tree is a near perfect reflection of its environment then it's easy to see why trees appear as they do. The Oklahoma tree is proof that we live in a harsh climate. Just look at it. To survive trees must live through quickly changing extreme weather conditions, months of intense heat, extreme cold, years of drought interrupted by floods. Wind that almost never stops blowing. Oh yea and severe storm systems that bring tornadoes, high winds, hail stones, ice storms, heavy snow events, dust storms and so on. Oklahoma weather / climate is written all over the face of the Oklahoma tree and that's why they look the way they do. The Oklahoma tree is a weathered tree and so are the people who live here. We are weathered people.