During a fierce wind storm a few months ago, a majestic 200-year old oak tree fell along that path and our village mourned a lost friend. Villagers trooped out to visit the felled giant, letters of poetry were left among its shedding bark. Children swarmed over its exposed gnarly roots and gentle arms. We dubbed it 'the climbing tree' and it became a destination. But what happened next was both unexpected and quite magical.
A local wood sculptor arrived with chainsaws, woodfiles, varnish and an overflowing bucket of talent. Slowly this amazing man transformed that hunk of deadwood into a work of art. He lovingly crafted images of all creatures beholden to an oak tree. A tapping woodpecker, a squirrel eating an acorn, a proud owl, and several oak leaves, acorns and mushrooms adorned the tree trunk. A rabbit shyly peaked through a hole. A frog crouched in a corner. A beetle burrowed into the wood.
Throughout this tiny wooden community, the sculptor fashioned benches and a small winding stairway to a tiny arena of oaken seats for an audience to contemplate the surrounding fields, vineyards and alpen views.
Our 'climbing tree' has become something of a local celebrity. A constant stream of people and cars arrive to marvel at its loveliness. Its majesty once more restored, this proud old chene tree is having a happy ending.