The romantic white oak tree

Published 10:12 am Tuesday, February 15, 2011

By KENNEDY TOLBERT / Community Columnist

On a crooked white oak, off the side of a small dirt road, there are two initials carved. As the beautiful town of Wilsonville hustles along with the day-to-day tasks of life we all get caught up in, I cannot help but stop and think of that white oak.

Once young and strong like we all are or were at one time, that white oak can symbolize a lot of who we are and hope to be.

The two initials, TH and JY, are carved inside an imperfect heart shape. It looks to be an old carving, forgotten from the many storms that have rained upon it, and the cool summer winds that have blown dust into the small, carved heart. What could the names have been? Did these two lovers ever marry and share a life together, or were they forgotten much like the white oak tree?

A young oak it had to have been when the carving was first introduced to its strong trunk.
It must have oozed sap for weeks and now the evidence is clear as the dried scar remains upon it.

Had they not remained together, these two lovebirds, did heartbreak leave the same kind of unhealed scar on someone? Could they have carved these initials just before eloping suddenly and heading out of town, or maybe they carved it just to find themselves standing and saying wedding vows a short time later. I ponder these thoughts as I glance up at the white chapel on a grassy hill, just up the road from the hidden oak tree.

Here the white chapel stands in the middle of the town of Wilsonville on a grassy hill, just up the road from the hidden oak tree. (Special/Kennedy Tolbert)

As I sit here again today I am reminded why I came. Romantic thoughts like this always fill me with a sort of magic I know still exists in some places. Feb. 14, a year ago, I sat on a bench near the oak tree.

Without a valentine of my own, I decided to sit and think of someone else’s who could have shared a kind of magic in years past. Suddenly, the dirt was rustled by a parking car and a small elderly woman stepped out with a handpicked rose.

My heart skipped wondering what she could be doing, and then I watched her slowly walk over and kneel down to the small white oak tree. As she placed the rose down I could see her trail her shaky fingers over the letters TH, and then around the shape of the heart. My eyes became blurred with tears and she was soon gone as quickly as she came.

Today as I stand beside the white oak I still ponder these same questions and many more that I will never have answers to. I guess that is partly what makes it so magical.

The sun is now setting, and I am the only one who has visited here today, so I pull out two handpicked roses and leave them at the foot of a not completely forgotten white oak tree underneath two carved initials.

Kennedy Tolbert, the community columnist for Wilsonville, can be reached at