Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Pepper and The Fall of the Great Black Oak


On a hot, still day in September – a day that did not feel like autumn – the Great Black Oak in the backyard fell. It had grown at an angle most of its life, stretching out over the Rock Garden and an ancient gnarled hackberry and some pink dogwoods. When it came down, drawn finally to earth, it broke the old hackberry and took the dogwoods out, too. The yard was still as death that afternoon, hot as death, a green death that stretched 60 feet across the yard from the roots of the Great Black Oak.

Pepper had been at doggy daycare when the old oak fell, and I had been at a meeting.

Late that afternoon, surveying the great expanse of leaf and limb and root, we felt sober and somber (next door neighbor words – and feelings – sometimes). We also felt grateful and disconcerted, for we played in the yard by the Great Black Oak every day.

Pep walked slowly from root to crown, sniffing, pawing.

“Why today?” she asked, quietly.

I had been wondering the same thing.

Why on a hot autumn day – no breeze, no rain – why on a hot autumn day would the Great Black Oak fall to the earth?

“I wish it hadn’t crushed the hackberry and the dogwoods,” Pep murmured.

I wished it hadn’t either. The yard looked like a green massacre.

“Eventually you end up where you’ve been leaning,” I finally said. 

“I’m leaning towards a nap,” said Pep. “It’s been a long day dealing with all the other dogs at daycare.”


  1. Pepper! You’re back! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  2. Our decades old Great Black Oak fell, roots up, in September as well, taking out our rock wall but miraculously little else. For years, due to the extent of the almost perpendicular bend of its trunk, we had predicted it’s demise. Professional tree surgeons predicted otherwise. So, like Pepper, we had the same questions when it fell. Your thoughtful response was spot on and right there in front of us the whole time. Thank you for solving the mystery!

  3. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I suppose the old, Great Black Oak knew it was time to return completely to the earth. By kind providence it didn’t take any other creature with it.

    And I agree with Lyn: it was great to see Pepper back. Judging from the photograph, Pepper truly knows how to relax.

  4. Glad to see Pep has made a comeback on your Bacon Blog! She’s quite the wise dog though I think from what I hear, a very spoiled dog!!!!!!

  5. Love, love, love Pepper time (am waiting patiently for my book), and thank you for sharing.

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