Friday, February 18, 2011

A heavy heart

As I'm sure you've heard on the news recently, Auburn's oak trees on Toomer's corner were poisoned by a self proclaimed Alabama fan.  (And I use self proclaimed, because I'm sure Alabama isn't claiming him as he is a lunatic).

These two trees, which stand on Toomer's corner (named after Toomer's drugs) in Auburn have been there for 130 years.  They have stood the test of time.  Two strong trees, which time after time have seen celebration after celebration as thousands of Auburn fans, cheering our cheers, yelling WAR EAGLE to those passing by, hugging our family and friends, and throwing toilet paper in the trees to celebrate a victory.  A time honored Auburn tradition that has been around now for 50 + years. 

As a college student, coming to Auburn was a choice that I made by myself.  My family certainly didn't have Auburn degrees. They were from northern schools and if had their way, I would have gone to Michigan or the University of Illinois. 

After my first Auburn football game as a college student, a few of my friends wanted to go to Toomer's corner.  They had already packed their toilet paper. I thought it was strange and slightly mental that people in daylight, would dirty up their own tree!!!! I had no idea what I was getting myself into. 

We got down to Toomer's corner.  People were running towards downtown with toilet paper in hand. Shouts of "War Eagle" filling the air.  Everyone was so excited! There wasn't a stranger to be found.  Everyone was family down there. Everyone.  All at once, I had thousands of family members.  There was a guy celebrating by riding his unicycle through the street, parents who brought their little children, orange everywhere, and toilet paper streaming through the air.   It was then that I thought. . . "It is so great to be an Auburn Tiger."  And I joined in!

You see these trees are so much more than just trees.  They are a tradition.  They are celebration.  They are family.

The Mr. and I were so excited this year when the Butterbean had his first Toomer's corner experience.  After Auburn won the SEC championship, we loaded everyone up in the car and off we went.  The Butterbean wasn't too sure what to think with the huge crowd of people.  We cheered WAR EAGLE, we chatted with friends, we celebrated.  Then it was time. . . we made our way through the crowd with our one roll of toilet paper.  The Mr holding the Butterbean and I guiding the way.  We got close enough.  I handed the roll of toilet paper to the Mr. (knowing he could make the throw far better than I could)  I held onto the kiddo as I said, "Now watch Daddy."  I was so proud seeing my little guy see his father throw that one gleaming white roll into the air and disappear into the streams of white all around. 

I was excited to share that moment with my little guy and couldn't wait until he was old enough to do that for himself.  Something that The Mr and I had both participated in as college students. Something that I hoped for him to do himself.

The life of the oak trees' fate is grim.  It saddens me that the Butterbean may not be able to throw a roll into the same tree that his father and I threw into as college students.  We could always replant two more trees.  But it's still not the same tree.  And it may take 3-5 years for all of the poison to be out of the soil before that is even possible. 

Though the uncertainty remains on the tree's fate.  I will continue to take the Butterbean to Toomer's corner after wins.  To celebrate with my Auburn family.  To remember the times of triumph, the times of celebration, and instill in him the Auburn spirit.  You see, Toomer's corner is so much more than just two trees.   It is family and love and life.  So I will end this post with a simple sentence that I carry proudly in my heart: 

It certainly IS great to be an AUBURN TIGER!!!! 

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