One day several years ago I was driving through the winding Berkeley hills when suddenly I had to hit the brakes rather abruptly to avoid a collision with a giant oak tree that was literally growing right out of the middle of the road. The late afternoon light filtered through its branches, which were gnarled and extended beyond the edges of the road on both sides. The trunk of the tree was enormous. It seemed as though that tree had been there forever. What was it doing there? How on earth was it growing in the middle of the road like that surrounded by concrete? Fast forward a few years. I had just decided to create this blog: a photo blog about nature in the city. I thought about that oak tree; I thought it would make the perfect subject for my opening post. All I needed to do was to take a picture of it. However, I had a little problem: I couldn’t remember where the tree was.
So began my quest to find that tree. I started asking around to see if anyone knew where it was. First, I was told, “Oh yes, I know EXACTLY the tree you mean,” and I was given a location. When I arrived, there was indeed a beautiful old oak tree, but it was off to the side of the road instead of the middle. It wasn’t the same tree I had seen. So I asked around again and was told about another location. Excited, I headed off. Again I found an oak tree, and this time it was in fact growing in the middle of the road. But this tree was much, much smaller than the majestic one I remembered. Still a cool tree but no way was it the same one. Discouraged I started heading home but decided to stop and check out John Hinkle Park. When I arrived at the park, right there in the middle of the road was a huge gorgeous oak tree. It looked just like the one I remembered except unlike that one, the oak at John Hinkle Park was on a dead-end street. I still haven't found that tree, but I sure hope I do. Finding it means I'm going to have to go outside and look for it; I'm going to have to go outside and search for nature in the city.
For us city dwellers it can be a challenge to find the time to get outside and into the great outdoors, especially if it involves a long car ride and the use of precious vacation hours. However, there is a surprising amount of nature that can be found and enjoyed right here without ever having to leave the city. My goal is to find it and photograph it. So the search for the tree continues....
John Hinkle Park, 41 Somerset Avenue between Southampton Avenue and San Diego Road, Berkeley