A tragedy at Toomer’s Corner
Today I am an Auburn fan. Now I am a UGA grad and proud member of the Bulldog Nation, but today I join everyone in the South to mourn the potential loss of the 130-year-old live oaks at Toomer’s Corner on the Auburn campus after a misguided individual poisoned the trees with herbicide.
You might not consider this event a “tragedy.” No one was killed or injured. But there are levels of tragedy and this one is sad on many levels.
The Toomer’s Corner trees represent all that is wonderful about college tradition. I am sure generations of Auburn fans can reminisce about helping to toilet paper the trees to celebrate an Auburn win.
We Bulldogs ring our historic chapel bell to celebrate our victories. These traditions help us to connect with others and provide fond memories. They are the heart and symbol of being a member of a college clan.
The Toomer’s Corner oaks are so much a part of being an Auburn fan that the Auburn Alumni Association sells Toomer’s Oak seedlings with a roll of toilet paper! These seedlings are sprouted from acorns from the two historic trees on the corner of College Street and Magnolia Avenue. And, countless wedding proposals have been made under these trees.
The vandalism and potential destruction of the Toomer’s Corner oaks represent all that is wrong when sports allegiance goes awry.
Sure, no person was killed or physically injured but lots of folks are hurt just the same. I watched as one of the tree experts at Auburn struggled with his emotions when discussing the potential impact of the herbicide in a TV interview.
You don’t have to be a sports fan or hold an allegiance to a Southern university to mourn the potential loss of these trees. All those who garden and love nature are just sick to learn that these majestic and historic trees may die.
Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana) are evergreen native trees that are common in the South. The Southern live oak is the state tree of Georgia. 130-year-old trees are to be cherished and protected.
If these trees die, no one in our lifetime will live to see new live oaks grow to the magnificent size of these currently standing so proudly on Toomer’s Corner.
At the risk of being maudlin, I think of the last line of the sweet poem by Joyce Kilmer: “Only God can make a tree.”
Peachtree City, Ga.