Thrown into turmoil by the end of his long-term relationship, Professor James Canton spent two years meditating beneath the shelter of the massive 800-year-old Honywood Oak tree in North Essex, England. While considering the direction of his own life, he began to contemplate the existence of this colossal tree. Standing in England for centuries, the oak would have been a sapling when the Magna Carta was signed in 1215.
Canton examines our long-standing dependency on the oak, and how that has developed and morphed into myth and legend. We no longer need these sturdy trees to build our houses and boats, to fuel our fires, or to grind their acorns into flour in times of famine. What purpose, then, do they serve in our world today? Are these miracles of nature no longer necessary to our lives? What can they offer us?
Canton tells the story of this tree in its ecological, spiritual, literary, and historical contexts, using it as a prism to see his own life and human history. The Oak Papers is a reflection on change and transformation, and the role nature has played in sustaining and redeeming us.