McDowell Technical Community College

Allen’s Offerings


By Allen Buchanan

Mitchell County

Years ago, when I wanted something to do, I usually went into the woods. Where I grew up, only a yard and small creek separated me from the woods which I could see from every room in the house.

Like most kids, I was very curious and would try anything if I thought I could do it. Even if I was warned not to, I would sneak off to the woods anyway. The challenge made it more desirable. I never had any particular reason to go there. Sometimes I went just to go walking or to be alone and talk to myself. Once in a while, I would take a friend to talk with. The woods had so much to offer if only I had been aware of it.

There were many different kinds of trees to be found and I should have been able to tell them apart. But to me, a tree was just a tree. A tree was just an object growing tall from the ground for little boys to play on. Eventually, I came to know the difference between a pine tree and the others because it stayed green forever unless it was dead. Pine trees also had a sound all to themselves when the wind blew. Kind of a lonesome sound it made. As other trees shed their leaves, the pine tree’s “needles” would drop to the ground. If I wasn’t careful when walking on them, I would slip and fall. Their slipperiness also was to my advantage. For instance, if I found a really steep hill covered with pine needles, I was in for a treat. All I needed was a cardboard box. Then I would get into it at the top of the hill and down I would go. It was like sleigh riding in July without snow and the cold.

With help from my grandfather, I made all kinds of things from the trees in the woods. Things such as a bow and arrow, made from a hickory tree. Laurel or ivy was good for making a slingshot. My favorite thing he made me was a swing from a strong limb of a mimosa tree. Once I got started swinging, it seemed like I could swing forever.

Since I live in the mountains of Western North Carolina, I’m surrounded by trillions of trees and its second nature to like trees. I don’t remember when the mimosa tree was cut down nor the reason for it. Not far from where it stood, a maple tree grew tall and I loved that tree. I laid on the ground many times in the Summer and cooled in its shade. When Fall arrived, the maple displayed a beautiful array of orange, red and yellow colors. Lots of stories were shared with family and friends beneath its branches. While birds sang their songs, they cheerfully built their nests there to start a new family. Squirrels playfully jumped from limb to limb. After I got my driving licenses, I’d park my car in the yard below that maple to keep it cool. The tree offered a good place to wax or vacuum out my car.

My grandmother had some neighbors living next door who shared the tree. One of their daughters often climbed to the top barefooted. She would sit on the limbs for hours and read while the tree swayed back and forth.  Her family moved away and my grandmother took residence in heaven.  Years passed and my parents moved next door. As they were remodeling dad’s home place and doing some landscaping, issues came up that required the maple to be cut down. I recall begging my parents not to do it. On the day, the bulldozer pushed it over and its roots let go, I literally sat next door in my yard and cried. I watched an old friend’s life come to an end.

Today I am faced with a similar situation. The tallest tree in my front yard has got to go.  Standing tall at over 50’ high, much of it is rotting away. With all the crazy weather, our country has seen in the past months, safety is a major issue. Our house is paid for and our vehicles sit within 15’ of the tree trunk. Once again, a favorite tree has got to go.

Though these trees have had sentimental value, they don’t have a soul. I get over their loss in a week or two. But if it was you, a dear friend of mine or a stranger I just met and you were facing death, I would be majorly concerned. Why? Because you have a soul. You are not simply going to rot away never to be heard of again. You and I have a choice.  I believe I will be held accountable for whether or not I share Jesus Christ with you. Then you are responsible for what you choose to do with that information. Choose wisely!