“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”- Book of Ecclesiastes
Many years ago, a tree began to grow big and strong at the end of a long winding driveway of the late Ray and Josephine Meyer’s farm by Spillville. From an oak seedling the tree grew gracefully as each season passed.
Josephine, my mother-in-law, gave her heart to that tree. The long limbs had sheltered her children from the rain while waiting for the school bus. The tree stood alone by the driveway with its magnificent fall foliage every year, and every summer was adorned with dark green shady leaves.
I was told that one day the gravel road by the Meyer farm was to be changed and the tree was on the list to be cut down. Josephine became upset that her beautiful tree was going to be gone, so she went to a county supervisor’s meeting to protest. She was ready to chain herself to that tree if need be. At the meeting it was decided to have the curve of the road stay as it was to save the precious tree. Luckily, the tree was saved for another generation to admire. No one knew how special this tree would grow up to be.
Years later, the Meyer’s grandson, Alan, moved to the family farm and also fell in love with the beautiful oak tree. One day the grandson noticed the tree was getting older and the trunk needed reinforcing. Alan took a large chain and attached it around the tree. The tree kept growing and soon the tree had grown around the chain.
They say there is a season for everything. For all the care Alan gave the tree to live a long life, it was not in the stars for Alan to be graced with the same long life. Alan was killed in a car accident, leaving his young wife and three small children.
As the tree’s seasons passed, so did the life of the tree. The tree was able to watch over Alan’s family for many years. Alan’s parents, Charlie and Kitty Meyer live on the farm now. The special tree was hit by lightning and became cracked most of the way down the trunk.
Charlie and Kitty thought long and hard about what to do about the special tree. Josephine and Alan loved that tree. Then the Meyer’s thought of the long time friend and old neighbor of the family, woodcarving artist Stan (Slim) Maroushek. Slim could make a chainsaw carving out of the stump. The tree would live on in memory of the two people who diligently kept the tree alive through the years. The tree would be preserved as a memorial.
Along came long, lanky Slim to save the day! Slim is a well known artist who has been featured in many magazines and also teaches woodcarving all over the country. Slim grew up around Spillville and was neighbor’s to the famous woodcarvers, Frank and Joseph Bily when they lived on the farm. As a child, Slim spent many hours intrigued by watching the carving of the clocks. Slim used to help sweep up the wood shavings for the brothers.
The Meyer’s decided to have Slim chainsaw a boy with a fishing pole on the old oak tree. It was a fairly easy choice, since the farm driveway boasts the Bohemian Creek beside it and is a favorite fishing spot in the neighborhood.
Slim came down from Harmony and began the project. First thing Slim had to do was cut down the remaining part of the tree and look over where he could begin carving the almost life size figure. The bottom was rotted almost all the way down, so Slim started chain sawing his figure up higher than he first planned. Creative Slim used the lower half with the crack in the wood as the creek. Slim started carving a couple of days before we got our first snowstorm that year. He was even able to get the figure painted.
The Meyer’s tree of life lives on, in memory of two people who were adamant about saving it, Josephine and Alan Meyer. Having artist Slim Maroushek do the carving gave the tree the honor it deserved. The Spillville area is also honored to have one of Slim’s carvings in the area where Slim grew up and raised his family.
Part of the trunk of the special tree also went to David Meyer, Charlie’s brother from Tipton, who makes items out of wood. No matter how far away David lives, he still has a “piece” of home with him. Having a piece of that special tree will always bring back precious memories of growing up on the family farm.
To some people a tree is a tree. For our family it is part of our history.