American Chestnuts

About twenty years ago, I stumbled across a photo in the back of a National Geographic magazine, depicting a man standing in the midst of towering chestnut trees. The mere size if the trees arrested my attention first, but as I started to learn more about them the entire story of their near-complete demise, and a longing to have seen those incredible forests took hold of me. Walking in the North Carolina woods in springtime, I saw the silver shoots still doggedly sprouting, and it filled my heart with hope. Now there are people replanting blight-resistant strains of the trees, and I hope that someday in the far distant future, our children’s children’s children will once again know these giants. -Laurie

(Laurie Lewis/Spruce and Maple Music, Bug Music)
From Skippin’ and Flyin’ (SMM 2006)


G                                             F
There are none still alive who remember
F                                   G
all along the Appalachian chain
G                                     F
the time when we ruled the woodlands,
F                               G
the surrounding hills and plains
F             C               G
Pawnee, Cherokee, Mohican and Cree,
F                 C       D
We answered to their needs
G                            F
And we asked for nothing in return
F                                   G
than to plant and to spread our seeds


Then the Plague, it came among us
from across the wide, empty sea
Weak and strong alike were felled
for it knew no spark of mercy


Now some say we’re gone forever
and there are so few who care
The oaks feed the few who still linger here–
the squirrel, the jay and the bear


But we bide our time beneath the earth
who once were giants on the land
Each year we send up our silver shoots
and we will rise again

Each year we send up our silver shoots
and we will rise again

© Laurie Lewis 2021