COMMENTARY

Snap Happy

Mighty oaks enchanting, essential

By Hilary Berg

I love the crunch of acorns under my feet. The little nuts release such a satisfying SNAP! Their shape and smooth texture are also pleasing, and the miniature beanies they wear on top make me smile.

In Yamhill, Beulah City Park is the perfect place for acorn appreciators. Living outside the Willamette Valley town, I’ve taken my son to the playground many times. The oaks at Beulah tower over the entire area. The best view of these glorious trees is by slide, as in lying down on the end and staring up into the canopy of swaying branches.

Editor's Note

Hilary Berg has been the editor of OWP since 2006. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s in journalism. She and her husband own a seven-acre vineyard and winery called Roots.

Without the oaks, the park would lose its identity, and the incredible energy they give off would disappear, too. While there is no threat to this particular grove, the Oregon white oaks found on surrounding hillsides — aka prime real estate for vineyards — are in danger. As you will read in Michael Alberty’s story, “Disappearing Act,” the Quercus garryana is in dire need of protection.

Vital to the entire ecosystem, these oaks demand respect, of which I have a great amount. My appreciation for trees is rooted in the fact that I grew up on The Great Plains. Yes, there are trees, but they are way younger — shorter and slimmer — and far fewer in number. Seeing a BIG tree here still excites me to this day.

The sublimity of the trees on the West Coast could be compared to what is now called the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, part of what once was the largest continuous ecosystem in North America with one of the most complicated and diverse ecosystems in the world — surpassed only by the rainforests of Brazil. Now, only 4 percent remains.

You wouldn’t think grass would be so important to animals and the environs, but it is. The same can be said for Oregon white oaks. They hold an important place in the Valley’s ecosystem. Not only does the environment need these beauties, people do, as well, including my son and future generations.

What a shame it would be for kids — old and young — to never experience the SNAP of an acorn underfoot.

Now is the time to save the Oregon white oak. One of life’s smallest pleasures is depending on it.

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