The Sitting Tree

By Robert Robillard on Uncategorized

My Favorite Tree?

The Sitting Tree 

My favorite tree, the sitting tree,  is on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard in West Tisbury. It is located the intersection of State Road and North Road across the street from the former Humphrey’s Bakery.

This tree, a white oak (Quercus Alba), has been called ‘the great oak’ and the ‘sitting tree’ because of it’s sweeping branches that reach out and touch the ground. It is wider then it is tall and it was perfect for climbing.

Like humans, the tree is old and it doesn’t have the strength or agility it once had. It’s branches are drooping, storms have ravaged it’s integrity and stability and it’s health is in decline but it is still to be admired. It is now a sitting tree that no longer can be used for sitting.

  • I don’t know how old the tree is but it is forever etched in my mind. I have vivid memories of visiting Humphrey’s Bakery with Gamma (my brother couldn’t pronounce ‘r’s when he was little so Gramma became Gamma and it stuck).
  • The molasses cookies were my favorite. My brothers and sister and I would scamper across State Road with cookies or donuts in hand and jump into the arms of the waiting tree. There we sat in the arms of the oak tree eating our cookies before climbing into the majestic tree, each one of us participating in our own visioning games (pirate, queen, king, army commander, movie star).
  • Eventually Gamma would call us and we would reluctantly leave the tree and ride away knowing we will return. I have visited the tree for over 50 years.


The tree has been photographed many times over it’s life. The tree graced the inside of LIFE Magazine when it was photographed by Alfred Eisenstadt in 1969. Aaron Suskind photographed it in 1973.  Photo right ~Eisenstadt, 1969

The tree has been climbed, painted, photographed and admired by thousands of professionals, parents, children and all sorts of folks heading ‘up island’. It sits in the middle of a field, alone, and waiting to be explored.  Photo right Suskind, 1973


The White Oak is the tree from which the phrase “The Mighty Oak” was coined. It is an excellent specimen tree needing plenty of room to mature properly. The White Oak tree, Quercus alba, is a great majestic long-lived tree that will last for generations. Oak trees may live to be more than 200 years old.

 The Oak Tree

A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak tree was tired and stark
But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell around
The weary wind gave up and spoke
How can you still be standing, Oak?
The oak tree said I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two,
Carry each leaf away
Shake my limbs and make me sway
But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them for you see
They are the deepest part of me
Until today I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found with thanks to you
I am stronger than I ever knew.


Do I have other favorite trees? Absolutely! There are glorious sugar maples with their fiery orange fall colors, the beautiful kwanzon cherry trees with double pink flowers, tall and graceful Norway spruces and dogwoods with their horizontal habit and subtle pink or white flowers. Every tree has it’s special character that makes it the ‘right’ tree for a perfect spot, but in the middle of this field across the street from Humphrey’s, this is the oak I love. It is a part of my childhood and I visit every time I go to the Island. It is not the prettiest. It is not the perfect specimen but it is perfect in my memory.

Guest Author:

David Fisher is a registered Landscape Architect and Principal of Fisher Design Group in Concord, MA offering services to homeowners, commercial clients and government and non-profit organizations. He is actively involved in promoting and enhancing Concord’s rich and sensitive heritage.

David Fisher can be reached at:

Concord, MA 01742

978.996.5713 t


The White Oak is the tree from which the phrase “The Mighty Oak” was coined. It is an excellent specimen tree needing plenty of room to mature properly. The White Oak tree, Quercus alba, is a great majestic long-lived tree that will last for generations. Oak trees may live to be more than 200 years old.


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob If you have a building or remodeling question you can have rob respond to your answer via video. Click here for more information. Invite code: x22r2

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