On a recent visit to my Mama’s greenhouse on William road where I grew up, I noticed the live oak trees next door where my grandparents used to live. I always admire live oaks especially when their branches begin to touch the ground and continue growing towards the sky. This time while enjoying a morning walk I noticed one of the three trees planted along the driveway doing that same dipping to the ground and turning skyward. Funny I hadn’t noticed it before. What a treasure! I wonder if my grandparents ever dreamed of their children and grandchildren getting to experience the beauty of these gracious trees with their dipping and turning when they first put them in the ground some eighty years ago.
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Mama said that when Ma Ma and Pa Pa Greene, her in-laws, first married they went into the field where the live oaks were growing wild and picked out seedlings to plant on their new home-place. They planted several, but as far as I can recall at least 7 or 8 of those trees are still thriving. To keep them growing Ma Ma would fill a five-gallon bucket and water each of them until they were established trees. She didn’t have a four-wheeler or golf cart to help her so I’d say she was persistent in her endeavors to have a beautiful shaded yard and the rewards of her work are evident today. Knowing this now gives a sweet memorial to her every time I see those trees. I’m thankful for that.
I have discovered interesting facts about these southern live oaks in the past few days. One is their resistance to strong winds. These oaks are a testament to that having weathered many hurricanes including Rita in 2008. Because of their strong spreading root system, they are able to weather the storms especially those trees that are planted next to one another. The roots mangle and intertwine as they grow and cause a strong underground web. In the wind, their branches can bend without breaking and their leaves curl so they don’t easily fall off of the stem. They can grow in sandy or clay soil up to 60 feet high and 80 feet wide with trunks measuring over 30 feet in circumference. They look like evergreens, but actually get new leaves every spring by replacing old ones in the same season. Their fruit is said to be one of the sweetest of acorns and the Native American’s used them to make oil. It’s wood is one of the hardest of woods that has been used to make battleships that withstood canon fire. The most amazing thing to me is some are over a thousand years old. Don’t really know how they figured that one out!
Other green things my grandmother used to nurture were onion tops and parsley for cooking. She planted them in a large, black cauldron which rested under one of those live oaks near her back door. I still recall the taste of green onions and parsley in her potato stew she would make which always began with a roux. The cauldron was an old pot they once used outside on an open fire to cook such things as a jambalaya or gratons, also known as cracklings which are chunks of fried pork skin with fat and meat. Some of the things I grew up eating.
One day I decided having a pot of green onion tops on my patio would be convenient for cooking, but I couldn’t find any plants in the store. Then my sister-in-law, Cindy, told me what her friend from Lake Charles does and that is to plant the root ends of the green onions you buy in the produce section in the grocery store. Brilliant! So I got a pot of dirt and cut off the green tops of the onions and planted the roots with their white ends sticking up. The only upkeep is making sure they are watered. This spring, after enjoying their blooms, it was time to pull out the overgrown onions and add more soil and replant with fresh onion tops from the grocery store.
That was five weeks ago and they are now two feet high. I also grow other herbs like thyme, parsley, dill, rosemary, basil, cilantro, and peppermint. If I can do it anyone can.
Here is a dip recipe for crackers and veggies I like to make with fresh herbs from my patio pots:
Live Oaks and Green Onions (Fresh Herb Dip)
1 – 8 ounce block cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup greek yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoons chopped dill
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients until well blended. You can serve with veggies and/or crackers right away or store in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors of the herb blend to intensify. So, so refreshing and good!
After studying about oaks these past few days I believe God really enjoys His creation of trees to the full because of the many references to them in the bible and the beauty of them in the earth. Just think about it. What a creator and He created them for us to enjoy!
To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3