Friday, June 18, 2010

The Shoe Tree

We called it the “Shoe Tree” and looked for it every time we drove across the high desert region of central Oregon. Its striking contrast to the indigenous juniper, sage and grasses was immediately apparent. I can’t remember exactly when we first noticed the tree or how long it was in the making, but we anticipated its appearance just north of Shaniko, Oregon's quaint ghost town, that is currently inhabited by 25 living beings. The drive time from our shoe tree to our destination was about an hour and three quarters; so we knew how much time we had “ticked off” on our five hour drive.

I encouraged my husband to toss his old tennis shoes on its branches to add to the beauty of the tree, but he never got around to it. In February of 2010 we didn’t see our shoe tree, but thought we had missed it in winter's waning daylight. However, as we drove north along highway 97 a few days later, I realized that it was gone! A burnt stump was all that remained. We pulled over to discover that no brush fire had destroyed our tree. Its remains sat in the midst of winter’s green and yellow grasses. It was obviously destroyed by an act of vandalism.

Why would someone do this? The tree wasn’t hurting anyone; it didn’t harm the landscape or animals, and it always brought a smile. Well, at least I have a picture of the Shoe Tree that I can share with friends and family. Who knows? Maybe its cousin will crop up nearby one of these days.

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