Sarah Rappaport, ME

Senior Writer

Sarah is a freelance writer, multimedia editor, and environmental conservationist based in Portland, Maine. She has degrees in environmental studies from Tulane University and a master’s in journalism from Boston University. Sarah has worked as a marine mammal specialist, an assistant producer for an environmental radio program, and a scuba diver. After nearly three decades roaming the planet, Sarah’s realized a few things: There’s nothing better than writing with a dog or two by her side, winter sunsets are highly underrated, and she’ll never be able to carry a tune. Really. She’s a horrible singer.

As a Story Terrace writer, Sarah interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

My Oak

I spent my childhood in the suburbs of New Jersey. Save your “armpit of America” jokes—I’ve heard them all.

Smack dab in the middle of my family’s yard stood an oak tree. Its trunk stood solid, rooted into the ground with such resolve it seemed as if it would stand forever. In the eyes of an introverted kindergartener, this oak was a behemoth.

I remember walking up to the old oak and sitting at the base of its enormous roots. The shade of the oak’s cascading branches offered shelter from the blistering summer heat. Sometimes, I would bring a book—always animal-related—and read for hours. Other days, I would encircle the base of the tree, with our family collie, Skye, shepherding me around in endless play.

As I aged, the oak remained. The elementary school science curriculum began to influence the way I thought about my tree. I started to understand just how alive this tree, this being, actually was. The oak’s bark crisped beneath my touch. Generations of memories whispered through its branches and crinkled its leaves.

One particular summer, the oak seemed more vibrant and full of life than ever before. I could see robins seeking refuge among the reaches of my oak. I wanted the same view.

So I started to climb. My hands traced the grooves of each consecutive layer of branches, finding just the right spot to pull myself higher and higher into its canopy. And suddenly, the world opened up to me. Perched on my tree, I could see the full nest of robins, their chicks crying for food. There was a squirrel, seated on a branch not far from where I clung, eyeing me carefully. I saw Skye, frantically barking with all the fervor he could muster, worried that his little sheep had strayed too far. But on top of my oak, I felt safe.

Years later, after we moved and I grew up, I ventured back to our little yard with the big tree. But, the oak no longer stood guard over my former home. The trunk that seemed so steadfast and the leaves that held time’s secrets were no more.

I wept for my friend.

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