Quercus garryana, Oregon White Oak, Garry Oak, whatever you choose to call it, its new green leaves are bright with chlorophyll after a long dormant winter. The sun too, more often visible, bright and higher in the sky every day. The spring sunlight facilitates the the recombination of carbon dioxide and water into sugars. We know it as photosynthesis, the tree knows it as food production to spur more growth. It looks like this year’s growth ring may be a big one. Fair weather but ample rain and river water will add more hardwood to this already massive specimen.
Oak savanna is a somewhat endangered habitat in the densely populated Portland metropolitan area but, some stands have been preserved. This giant resides on the banks of the Tualatin River, a tributary of the Willamette, at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.
A bench under the tree calls you to take a shady respite and to pause and listen to Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Black-headed Grosbeaks foraging in the foliage above. Be careful, the lazy shadows and peaceful disposition of the tree may lull you to nap in the afternoon warmth.
Over the river a trio of Red-tailed Hawks convene, circle the old tree, and rise on late afternoon thermals until nearly out of sight. The tree rustles in the breeze, I marvel over its richness.