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Letter to a Red Oak

K. Ouchley

I'm not going to be so presumptuous as to tell you your business, like how to grow or how not to grow all spraddled out like that. You've been around almost twice as long as I have and obviously know a thing or two about how to get along in this world. Homesteading so close to the road, you've seen a lot. I'm sorry to say that it was likely my great grandfather who began contributing to the soil compaction over your roots when he bought the first modern wagon in this area, a John Deere with solid rubber tires. But upland hardwood trees were common around here in those days, and folks needed shade. Then it was my grandfather with his nineteen twenty-something Star automobile with big, brass headlights, the first car on the sandy, one-track road. My dad followed up with post-World War II Fords. Like you, they had to root-hog or die on this hill just up from the D'Arbonne Swamp. Unlike you, they moved on to the more fertile ground when the cotton played out. I'm a latecomer to this scenario and only a few years ago acquired a piece of paper that declares you live on my property. Now that is presumptuous considering that I live on your land.

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