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Oak Savanna Sentinel

Janel Jacobson

2014    Size   H: 6.1 in  W: 2.8 in  D: 2.5 in  

In a private collection

I live in a diverse transition area between oak savanna country and the boreal mixed woods that predominate in the northeastern part of our state. On my walk to the studio I pass by old bur oak trees whose girth may just be encircled by the arms of two people. ~ They are beautiful and gnarled, and were growing long before this land saw its first non-native settlers. These particular trees have endured the weather extremes that Minnesota is known for, and have survived the pasturing of sheep during some long ago time. Lively red squirrels cache the autumn’s acorns in hollow, decayed areas, and may use those same places as their winter resting place. Our child has swung in a swing hung from one low, thick branch, and we have appreciated the cool summer shade that the branches provide. ~ While tending my garden near the studio, long after the vociferous spring meetings of frogs in nearby wetlands, the brilliant call of a tree frog occasionally pierces the quite space, his chirrup emanating from the grand, old, bur oaks nearby. I pause to wonder how that frog came to be there in the tree, so far from the vernal, spring rain fed pond on another side of our little settlement, and how it survived the summer to call from high in the tree’s branches as the season wanes. ~ Bringing these two subjects together was a contemplative choice that relates summer experiences of hearing the tree frog’s calls in the stillness and its presence in the aged oak trees. The tree frog, as sentinel, watches from high in the oak tree’s branches the changing, regional environment. Will the scene be altered as global climate change progresses?

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