It was bare of any leaves or needles, had died some time ago, and was a striking contrast to the indigenous juniper, sage and grasses. I can’t remember exactly when we first noticed the tree or how long it was in the making; but we anticipated its appearance just north of Shaniko, Oregon’s quaint ghost town, that is currently inhabited by 25 living beings. The drive time from the shoe tree to our destination in Oregon was about an hour and three quarters. So by the time the tree appeared, it was a welcome sight on our five-hour drive.
I encouraged my husband to toss his old tennis shoes on its branches to add to the tree’s enormous collection, but he never got around to it. In February of 2010 we didn’t see our shoe tree, but thought we had missed it in the winter’s waning daylight. However, as we drove north on highway 97 a few days later, I realized that it was gone!
We pulled over to discover that a burnt stump was all that remained. But no brush fire had destroyed our tree. Its remains sat in the midst of winter’s green and yellow grass. It was obviously destroyed by an act of vandalism.
Why would someone do this? The tree wasn’t hurting anyone, it didn’t harm the landscape or animals, and I’m sure it brought a smile to the weary traveler. Who knows, maybe its cousin will crop up somewhere one of these days.