A testament to nature’s wonders and the passage of time, the Majestic Wye Oak bore witness to the enduring spirit of generations living on the Eastern Shore for 450 years. Inspired by its enduring spirit, we knew we wanted to find a way to honor its legacy through scent and story.
In the 1500s, it stood watch over woodland trails used by the original native Americans and the birth of a new nation. Later the tree was known as a hitching post and meeting area for early settlers near the Village of Wye Mills in Talbot County. We can imagine the people that gazed upon it, admired its grandeur, and most certainly took advantage of its shade and beauty back then. Kids playing, farmhands napping, and family picnics under its branches.
In more modern times, the tree was recognized by the park service and given protected status, so it was registered as a state park that has ended up on maps and in books and the annals of Maryland history. It was known as a “champion tree” and was long recognized as the largest white oak tree in the nation.
This is where we come in. As kids, well before Steve and I would ever meet, the tree was a small intersection of our lives. Both of us made pilgrimages to the Wye Oak in our childhood.
For Tracie, it was an occasional roadside stop on the way to somewhere else, just like generations earlier. Tracie’s dad took great pride in sharing his love for the history and natural wonder of the tree. However, the tree needed no real explanation. Standing next to it, open mouthed, and looking up, you knew you were in the presence of something grand. Ginormous, sweeping, huge. And unforgettable.
For Steve, it was a well-remembered school fieldtrip. As a kid, he easily recalls seeing it for the first time. Its gnarled but somehow still graceful limbs grew out and up, larger themselves than most other whole trees. Of course, who wouldn’t want to climb to the top and peer out to see for miles around! Luckily his teacher was there to thwart such ideas. It was a magical experience to cherish to this day…
Alas, on June 6, 2002, it fell during a thunderstorm. The wind was just too much for the ancient tree to bear. It was a sad day for many of us who sometimes remembered, sometimes forgot, but always seemed comforted to know it was there. And then it was gone.
But all hope is not lost, and neither is the tree. Happily, the legacy of the Wye Oak lives on. We decided to stop by a few years ago to see it for ourselves. There, within the very center of the old immense trunk, now grows a new young tree grafted from the original. A descendant. What a beautiful sight! The Wye Oak lives on. And we also learned that a clone of the Wye Oak was planted on the grounds of Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s estate home. Seems so fitting…
It is the symbol of both the passage of time, generations, and changes, and yet also of renewal, rebirth, and the sheer will of life to continue. It is truly our honor to memorialize this special tree as part of the Eastern Shore’s history. We hope the scent we created can capture this sense of wonder for the natural gifts of the Eastern Shore, its ancient woodland forests, and our beautiful earth.