I got stuck in a rainstorm today, preparing for this piece. You probably know the kind of rainstorm that I’m talking about. It starts slight, gets heavier and then fades. Thinking that I had found a favorable weather window, I walked deep into Piedmont Park admiring the trees. The skies opened up. I found myself gazing up and collecting leaves and acorns in a downpour. Passersby might have wondered about me. I found it magical.
Setting out with the intention to identify my favorite tree was noble, if silly. How could I choose just one? It turns out that the best shade from the rain was to be found under my favorite trees. Plural. Because when it comes down to it, I love oaks. They remind me of home and growing up in Atlanta under the magnificence of 100’ tall oaks. Of course, as a little explorer they seemed even grander. As kids, we raked leaves and collected acorns in the fall – jumping into leaf piles and collecting acorns to protect our treehouse.
In Midtown, some of my favorite trees are massive water and willow oaks. They form huge canopies over houses and roads. The branches are some of the most majestic that I have ever seen. You may be thinking, “she should see the redwoods.” And I have while visiting my brother in California. Giant redwoods and oaks simultaneously make me feel teeny-tiny and infinitely connected to the natural world around me.
Fortunately over 20 oak species are native to Georgia, including the state tree, the Southern live oak. Identifiable by their leaves and bark, oak species are subdivided into red oaks, sporting jagged, pointy leaves and red in the centers of the bark, and white oaks with lobed leaves and bark that lacks red. Our valued Tyke Hike partner, Trees Atlanta, annually identifies Champion Trees that, “represent some of the oldest, heartiest, and most beautiful trees our city has to offer.” I’m enthralled to see that some of these Champion Trees are in our favorite Tyke Hike parks – I can’t wait to look for them with our Tyke Hike families this fall!
Join us on a Tyke Hike soon to learn more about native trees AND have fun with your family outdoors!
The Fascinating and Forgotten Pawpaw, in partnership with Trees Atlanta and Blue Heron Nature Preserve
Sat, Sept 26 - 10-11am, Virtual