This GARRY OAK(quercus garryana, or Oregon White Oak) is the oldest tree on our property. About 3 feet thick in the trunk, the old grandfather oak perches on the crest of the hill behind our house. A conservative guestimate puts its age at 300 years+. It has 5-6 huge limbs at least 12" thick or more, with tufts of smaller twigs still pushing up from the ends of the top branches.
We named it the Cougar Tree because it has two huge limbs that swing way out horizontally over the slope, making ideal cougar perches to watch the deer drink at the pond way below. The limbs are covered with a few inches of soil with a thick bed of moss draped on top and down over the sides. Licorice ferns grow out from beneath the moss, dovefoot geranium and miner's lettuce grow in the branch's soil. I have seen what looks like bobcat-sized poop on the limb-bed(we do have bobcats AND cougars). There is a deer trail that passes under the tree, and on down the hill through the lady ferns and sword ferns.
I am amazed to see this tree solidly rooted into the extreme slant of the hill, maintaining perfect balance to keep upright. It has survived fires that have consumed smaller trees, and winds that snap and uproot its neighbors. It has also survived the few times this place has been logged long ago. I like to think the loggers also admired and respected its size and attributes(there are a few other old growth trees in the area that have been left alone as well;0). When I feel like I need to connect with something solid and steadfast, I put my hand on the trunk and receive its grace of experience and rootedness.
I like to take photos of Cougar Tree in different light and weather and seasons. In this picture I happened to look up the trunk at this particular angle today, and thought it looked like a grizzly bear, arms outstretched, mouth open with teeth and grrrrr. Maybe it wants to be called Bear Tree?