Don and TrixieMy name is Old Tree. I haven’t always had this name. In fact, for most of my long life I had no name at all. I first heard my name spoken about twelve years ago when I overheard Farmer Don talking to visitors while they were on a tour of the forest. Since Farmer Don bought this forest, things sure have changed around here for the better. For one thing I get more attention than I’ve had in many years. Oh, I’ve always managed to get some attention, being the oldest and the largest maple tree in this forest, but you see, for some time now, I’ve have had conferred upon me a special status. I’m a nature tree. A nature tree is a tree that is past its prime. For one thing it no longer produces much sap for making maple syrup. But it’s still useful - as a wildlife refuge among other things. The crevices formed by the several branches I’ve lost over time have housed countless red and black squirrels, porcupines, raccoons, and birds.

I get attention from people too. 

"Can you guess Old Tree’s age?" he asks. "A tree like this grows about ¼ inch in diameter every year. "

Out come the tree calipers. My diameter is measured. A flurry of mental math follows and someone blurts out, "Old Tree is 172 years old!"

Farmer Don, commends the students – old and young alike - and with an accustomed smugness announces, "Old Tree has stopped growing for a number of years now and my estimate is that he is in excess of 200 years old".

It’s all in fun, but I have the last chuckle, though no one knows it - even Farmer Don. I am much older than 200 years old for my growth has been at a standstill for decades now since even before the tragedy of 1972.