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More Than Shade

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

There is power in trees. They can heat us in the winter they can cool us in the summer. They can lift our spirits, they can transport us to different places just by the sound of the wind through their leaves. They can connect us with the past to the loved ones who we may have sat with beneath their branches.


"Trees... carry the memory of rainfall. In their rings we read ancient weather—storms, sunlight, and temperatures, the growing seasons of centuries. A forest shares a history, which each tree remembers even after it has been felled.” ~Anne Michaels

Now we are learning they may power the future through hydro voltaic energy and creating wood-based generators for low-power devices, completely from wood.



I live on the prairie, at the edge of a gully. When I built this house there were no trees. But having lived in the Black Hills and the Rocky Mountains, I planted 50 loblolly pines and created a piney wood forest, so when the wind would blow through them in the winter, the sound of the mountains could be heard and in the summer, the heat made them truly smell like the mountains.

Then if you have trees, you get more trees because the birds rest in them and deposit the seeds of the other trees that came next, the hackberry, the redbud, the persimmons and the wild plum. They are all around me, and the walnuts from the forest service and the single cedar my dad planted saying that no man lives to stand in the shade of that slow growing tree and he didn't. Trees came here from friends, the redbud out front from Eve Schnakenberg, the single oak from Annabelle Mitchell, the only English Walnut from Margarette Garner, daughter of the last Chief of the Cherokees before statehood and the little grove of sassafras my dear friend Jon Sixkiller had helped me get established in the side yard.

I had long ago understood that seven kinds of wood create a lasting fire, so having this diversity is pleasing and has seemed righteous and when looking out at these friend given trees, their lives are remembered and the friendships have remained alive long after some had left this earth.


“When you’re outnumbered by trees your perspective shifts" ~Jessica Marie Baumgartner


Living among the trees is deeply rooted in me, as a Cherokee from my father's family, our native lands before forced removal were forests filled with a diversity of species, but my mother was forested, too, having grown up in the heart of the Ozarks near Lead Mine and Eldridge, near being the key word, surrounded by the indigenous species of hard woods located there near the Niangua River. The oak and walnut, the cherry were woods that grew there and later became hand fashioned furniture now found in my home.

During this fall and winter, I have had the true pleasure to climb into the jeep and drive right here in Ottawa County to the Ozarks we have just over the Spring River. It feels like going home to see the land change and the trees surround with the road curving and the blacktop ending and the dirt roads taking me up hills making my jeep provide the grip needed to get to the top. These roads take me to meet the kindest people, country folks and what takes me there? Water of course.

For me, these days it is mostly water, quantity or quality. In and around it is either TOO MUCH water, as we discuss and perhaps cuss the past and dread the floods of the future in and around Miami, and just into our Oklahoma Ozarks, it is water quality, as we seek to determine whether Indian Health Service or the DEQ will check the drinking water wells they are pulling water from, hoping the Boone Aquifer under Picher hasn't wandered their way to taint their water source.


People are opening the doors.

But not enough of us are knocking. You are welcome to help us with either of our survey projects for the Wells or the Flood. You can help by encouraging others to participate and if you haven't yourself yet: you have a drinking water well and live NE Ottawa County or if you know someone out that way, we could use your help. We are finding some people have gated their property, or have not been home when we knocked on their doors.

Water Quality again brings us back to Tar Creek and her color made us all wonder why she was so prominently green this last week. Questions and no answers yet. We are grateful so many people are caring about Tar Creek and paying attention to the treasure that flows right through us.


Quality and Quantity. Water connects us while the trees shade us.


Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim


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