There are memories that we have from our childhood that we keep with us till the day we die. This is one of those memories....

Every summer for as long as I could remember was spent holidaying on the Res, but not this year... I had just turned 11 and we were going to Charleston, South Carolina to visit family. I was the first one packed and immediately started bugging everyone to see if they were ready yet and if not...then why and how much longer did they think they would be. *whispers* (Sound like anyone you know?) I was so excited and I think my poor family were beginning to worry they would not survive the trip, so my father got out the Atlas and sat me down. He asked me to open it up and figure out how many miles we were going to travel and how long it would take. He also added that he didn't want to hear a peep out of me until I had completed that task. Well I sat there for a time and I had figured out the distance, which is 3150 miles if you ever need to know. However, no matter how much I tried though, I just couldn't get my head around the time it would take... so I cheated and called my Aunt Sophie *laughs* who was only to pleased to help me. We chatted a while and discussed all the things we would do together once we all arrived at her house. It had been a long time since she had lived on the Res and I really did miss her. My aunt and uncle had been living in South Carolina since they were married and had only managed to come back to visit a few times. Well she advised me to pack some books for the trip as it was going to take just over 2 days. So I quickly grabbed a few of my favourites as well as my pillow.

Despite my excitement, there is only so much scenery and passing towns that will interest an 11 year old child.. and there was no point in asking my father how much longer it was going to be, because I already knew the answer to that question. After hours of reading, scenery watching and game playing, I inevitably ended up falling asleep before we reached our overnight stop. After 2 and a half days of travelling we eventually arrived at Aunt Sophie's and I was ready to explore. She lived on an old plantation that was centuries old and there was no end of things to see and do. After a day of exploring the old house I set out early the next day to explore the grounds and it was after lunch sometime that I discovered what was to become my favourite place at Aunt Sophie's. It was the most beautiful Oak tree I had ever seen, it was also possibly the biggest tree I had ever seen and I stood there admiring it for what seemed like hours that first day.

Some of her branches, *laughs* (yes she was a girl) were so long that they actually touched the ground. This of course made it especially easy to climb and I spent nearly the whole of my summer vacation resting comfortably on one of her large limbs in the shade of her canopy. Aunt Sophie told me all about her special tree, she was in fact an Angel Oak and more than likely older than the plantation itself. It was then that she gave me a book to read by the Author Shel Silverstein called, The Giving Tree. When I look back now, reading that book was a turning point in my life. Every day I would take time out to climb as high as I could or just relax and read the afternoon away. Of course that is where I read my Aunt Sophie's book and it wasn't long before I looked upon that magnificent tree like an old friend. It was more painful than I care to admit to say goodbye when it was time to head home but thankfully I can disclose that there have been many more wonderful adventures over the years at my Aunt Sophie's. I feel it would be remiss of me not to share one of my favourite stories with you, It is what gave me a true appreciation of the beauty of my home and the forests that surround it.

Angel Oak outside of Charleston, SC. It’s 1400 years old. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Once there was a tree….. and she loved a little boy. And every day the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples. And they would play hide-and-go-seek. And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. And the boy loved the tree…….very much. And the tree was happy.

But time went by. And the boy grew older. And the tree was often alone. Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said “Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy”

“I am too big to climb and play”, said the boy. “I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money. Can you give me some money?” “I’m sorry,” said the tree, “but I have no money, I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy.” And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away. And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time.. and the tree was sad. And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy and she said, “Come, Boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy.” “I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy. “I want a house to keep me warm,” he said. “I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?” “I have no house,” said the tree. “The forest is my house, but you may cut off my branches and build a house. Then you will be happy.” And the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house. And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time. And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak. “Come, Boy,” she whispered, “come and play.” “I am too old and sad to play,” said the boy. “I want a boat that take me far away from here. Can you give me a boat?” “Cut down my trunk and make a boat,” said the tree. “Then you can sail away…… and be happy.” And so the boy cut down her trunk and made a boat and sailed away. And the tree was happy….

but not really. And after a long time the boy came back again. “I am sorry, Boy,” said the tree,

“but I have nothing left to give you—-” “My apples are gone.” “My teeth are too weak for apples,” said the boy. “My branches are gone,” said the tree. “You cannot swing on them——” “I am too old to swing on branches,” said the boy. “My trunk is gone,” said the tree. “You cannot climb——–” “I am too tired to climb,” said the boy. “I am sorry,” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something—— but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump.” “I don’t need very much now,” said the boy. “just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.” “Well,” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.” And the boy did. And the tree was happy.

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