Love ItLove It

For the Love of Trees

understanding which I cannot really explain unless you too can communicate with trees. In my garden in Latvia I had a large oak I fondly named Henry. Afterward, on the way to our nearest store, there were more oaks that I know the names of. No, I haven’t lost it, it just seems to be an unusual talent that I have. In the top photo is Henry.

The largest trees in Latvia are Dizkoki or Great Trees and these are protected by law. All of them are oaks and many ages ago these trees were thought to be holy and signal that a god was present. Some of these very ancient trees are still standing. One of them known as Zemgales krivs or the Sage of Zemgale is an oak that is 300 years old.

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The Sage of Zemgale was visited by Latvian Radio. As the story goes the tree stands at Garoza in the Ozolnieki region. At one time there were two great oaks but one collapsed. From the early 20th century to the time of WW II near this oak was a wooden dance floor. Many open-air parties were held here with musicians sitting in the great oak.

The oak has a big hollow on one side due to the collapsed oak and one grownup or several children can enter. What is interesting is that it has grown the same bark both on the outside and inside that hollow most likely to stabilize itself. It is 6.75 m in diameter.

Great trees were first classified and counted by Stanislavs Salins an arborist in the 1960s. He was the one to come up with the term dizkoks and he published a book in 1974 documenting 626 great trees all across Latvia. In fact, there was a huge great oak not far from where we lived.

To make sure that these trees are properly protected Latvian poet Imants Ziedonis started an activist group known as “Liberators of the Great Trees” in 1976. This group made 198 expeditions over twenty years to reach every corner of Latvia’s national territory. This job has been chronicled in the documentary “We’re Close By” available on LSM with English subtitles.

Even though this oak is not a great oak it is lovely in all seasons and stood right at the end of our suburban street in Riga, Latvia. I named him Bernhard.


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