Cows shelter under it during the heat of the day and rub their huge heads against it. No doubt other animals have taken refuge under its spreading branches and gnarled roots. It presides over a shallow puddle of a pond, dry and cracked now. A tenacious, thorny vine with speckled leaves clings to it, reaching up into its sturdy branches. Single-strand barbed wire, coated with flaking rust, twisted around the tree some time ago – is slowly being absorbed into it. Nails have been pounded into it: remnants of bustling activity, tantalizing clues, other traces of which are long gone. It may be 20 years old or 50. Oklahoma trees take a beating – ice storms, drying southerly winds, harsh sun; it's hard to tell the age of them.
One evening in late summer, Ike and I sat under the hackberry tree; Ike wasn't biting at my sleeve or running ahead and I felt no particular urge to be anywhere else. For a few minutes we had roots and were still. We surveyed the dry little pond and the humps and hillocks, the fading sky and the black flash of crows brushing the horizon. For a few minutes, we saw what the hackberry sees.