On a boundless Texas blue sky day in July, a mighty Oak stands gnarled by age and twisted with joy celebrating life for over a thousand years. The Goose Island Oak was the Oldest Oak Tree in Texas until 2007 when an older tree was registered on private property in Brazoria County, a couple hours to the northeast. Goose Island State Park is located along the Texas Gulf Coast in a coastal woodland between St. Charles and Aransas Bays near the towns of Fulton and Rockport. Bring your bathing suit, hat, and fishing poles to enjoy the calm bay water, warm breezes, and plentiful coastal wildlife.
Over a thousand years old, an ancient living being.
The Big Tree is a coastal live oak, Quercus virginiana, standing 44 feet tall with a crown spread of 88 feet. The trunk circumference is over 35 feet. All the surrounding live oak trees are offspring. While experiencing the woodland grove a feeling of reverence fills the air like a holy shrine or temple.
The following is a poem written on the plaque by an unknown author in the first person of the tree:
Welcome to my home.
I am a live oak tree and I am very old.
I have seen spring return more than a thousand times.
I can remember hundreds of hurricanes, most I'd rather forget, but I withstood.
There was a big fire once. I hate fire.
Around me are my offspring.
We are an old-dune woodland community.
We provide shelter and acorns for squirrels, jays, raccoons, bobwhite, deer, javelina and most other members of our community.
For most of my life I belonged to myself.
Now I belong to you, or so I'm told.
Humpf! Branch breakers and root tramplers the lot of you.
Some years ago someone came and patched my cracks, trimmed my dead branches, killed my pests and healed my fungus rots.
Was that you? I
'm feeling much better, thank you.
I am tired now.
You may leave me in peace when you are ready to go.
Please leave my home as you found it.
I have important things to do.
The seasons are changing again and I must get ready.
Goose Island State Park is a peaceful place to visit for the day or overnight camping. There are over 100 campsites by the bay or in the trees. The park has a fishing pier and boat launch for all types of watercraft. On our next visit, we will bring the canoe to explore the Bays and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. I most look forward to witnessing some endangered whooping cranes feeding on local blue crabs. Remember what the Big Tree said, "Please leave my home as you found it." Everywhere we visit in the world, the first thing spoken when someone finds out our place of origin is, "Don't Mess With Texas." We smile and nod our heads. The phrase is actually the State's anti-litter campaign. So yes, please do not throw your trash on the ground and be kind enough to pick up other people's ignorance. Especially plastic, that stuff never decomposes and ends up in our bays, oceans, rivers, and streams. If we want to be here another 1000 years, we need to stop trashing the place.