Meeting Mr. Bur

Mr. Bur is a beautiful Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) on Dickinson College’s campus. He stands approximately 45 feet tall, with a diameter of about 16 inches. He is presently in good health, and enjoys providing shade for the students, professors, and faculty who cross Morgan Field. Mr. Oak greets the residents of Drayer Hall each and every morning as they head towards the H.U.B. for their amazingly delicious breakfast from the dining hall or SNAR. Mr. Oak loves summer more than any other season because he knows that he is most appreciated on those hot, humid days when people stop and rest in his shade. He enjoys the fall because he looks beautiful, but it also makes him sad to see his leaves turn because he knows that means that winter is coming.

Winter is a cold and lonely season for Mr. Bur, and he is not looking forward to it. His Dickinson friends will stay bundled up inside, and will no longer appreciate him for his shade or pretty leaves. What keeps Mr. Bur going through the winter is the knowledge that spring is just around the corner. In the spring, Mr. Bur regrows his leaves, and they are a lively green. The inhabitants of Dickinson see this as a wonderful sign because it signals the start of spring, and they once again venture outside to enjoy Mr. Bur’s shade.

Aldo Leopold writes in the hopes of inspiring people to respect the land and environment around them, an idea he calls “land ethic”. Mr. Bur also likes this idea. He hopes that people listen to Aldo and treat their environments with care and respect, especially at Dickinson where he lives (1949

Bur Oak Trunk

Bur Oak Trunk

). Leopold also writes about his hunting party killed a she-wolf in the hopes that it would make game more plentiful. What Leopold then realized was that if you remove one part of an ecosystem, the whole thing is impacted (1949). Mr. Bur is important in this way as well. He produces plentiful acorns, which squirrels need to survive. He hopes that those who enjoy squirrels will also see how important and vital he is, because he feeds the squirrels. Aldo Leopold even wrote specifically about Bur Oaks. According to him, they are the only tree that can stand up to a prairie fire. This is because of its corky bark that acts as armor. Leopold even says that engineers got the idea of insulation from these oaks (1949:27).

Mr. Bur is a beautiful tree located on Morgan Field in front of Drayer Hall. He is very close to one of the walking paths, so many people walk beneath him each day. I look forward to seeing how he changes in the fall season.


Leopold, Aldo. 1949. A Sands County Almanac. Oxford University Press.

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