Built just one house from the original village border, our wood frame, Dutch Colonial style home circa 1905, is exactly one mile from the center of town and the commuter train that takes only a half hour to Chicago’s Loop. Originally built as home to a Swedish family of immigrants, this historic house only enjoyed three owners so not much alters the design interior or exterior. The lots are much larger than a normal piece of property in our village; we are fortunate enough to have some of the most magnificent oak trees on our property.
In the summer when they are in full leaf, these trees are more than magnificent, if that is possible. The shape of a one hundred fifty year old white oak tree is beautiful….not just beautiful; strong, sturdy and absolutely awe inspiring. Many is the day I stand gaping at the beauty of these century old trees and feel myself and my family quite blessed that these trees grace our yard. These massive trees shade our house and yard providing much needed cooler spaces in the hot summer, their size helps slow the winds during storms and their strong limbs provide a sturdy place to hang a swing for our grandsons.
If there is any problem living with oak trees it must be the over abundance of acorns and stiff, tough oak leaves. Starting some time in August, the squirrels and raccoons strip the trees of every acorn, most of them even before they mature leaving behind a huge amount of caps and acorn hulls. Then when the first frost hits and fall descends on us, so do their sturdy leaves leaving massive piles of leaves that do not crush easily and take extra time composting. When dry, these sturdy leaves are perfect for making a jumping pile. They do not crush easily, they provide a certain amount of cushion for eager young people to jump into and being so sturdy they do not blow around easily in a breeze so the pile stays relatively together with a minimum of raking.
Our yard has several white oaks, burr oaks, pin oaks and red oaks. White oak and burr oak leaves are shaped like a large mitten with rounded “fingers”; pin oak and red oak leaves are shaped more like an elongated hand with spiky tips. Raking and removing the over abundance of leaves is quite a chore but, my annoyance at the quantity of leaves and acorns in the fall never dampens my love for these stately oaks. It was because of my adoration of my beautiful oak trees that I started slowly collecting acorn and oak patterned items to add into many of my collections. First it was just a few oak leaf ornaments. This gold one with papier-mâché acorns decorates my torchère lamp in the living room all year long. Other acorn ornaments hang on my Christmas tree.
About 15 years ago, I found a partial set of silverware with an acorn and oak leaf pattern by 1947 Rogers Brothers Silver Company; consisting of knives, forks and a few spoons. I still look for pieces to complete the set and use on a formal table; mostly needing teaspoons and serving pieces, although I have three sugar spoons.
A few small hand-painted porcelain plates to use on a fall table and add to my hand painted American porcelain collection.
A mug from the late 1800’s and a tiny demitasse cup and saucer both decorated with hand painted accents of acorns and oak leaves. My sister even found a gold plated acorn lapel pin or tie-tack for me.
It’s funny but, you’d think a thing as mundane as acorns and oak leaves could be easily found when collecting. Sometimes it takes a long time to find another piece to add to the collection. Maybe others out there like me are looking also but, I don’t come across many items decorated in acorns and oak leaves. So, I continue looking wherever I go just hoping to find one more beautiful thing embellished with sturdy oak leaves and acorns.
Do you collect any nature inspired items?