Our love began the summer of 2000 under a white oak tree. This was no ordinary tree, this was a two hundred year old oak whose branches reached wider than her height. She stood on a bluff overlooking a serpentine creek. Emma was her name and she had become a symbol of our fight to protect this beautiful land from a needless road. We met for the first time at an event called “meet the creek” to raise awareness and public support. People came from all over the country to help save this unique landscape comprised of wetlands, meadows, and old growth oak forest. Emma protected the tree sitters who lived in her branches and touched the lives of many who came to defend her that summer. We fought hard, but as the sun was rising in late summer, Winnebago county brought in their bulldozers and pushed over what took 200 years to grow and burned her on the spot. Our hearts were very sad. But life blooms from death, and the friendships that were formed under Emma’s branches will endure a lifetime. We were soon married and conceieved a beautiful son. The cycle of life continues.
Contributed by Randy & Jessie Mermel, Roscoe, IL