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A Family of Oaks

"A name is so much more than a name, it is like the key to knowledge"

I love the unique insights that are held in a language, with words or ideas that are difficult or impossible to translate across cultures. For example, the Yiddish word “Trepverter” directly translates to “step words” and describes the witty comeback you think of when taking steps away from the person you visited - how great is that?

I continue to discover links between myself to oak trees. My bobute (Lithuanian for grandmother) often called upon the saying "laikykimes, kaip azuolai, nepasiduokim", which roughly translates to "let us hold on like the oaks". As a survivor of the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, she was a mighty oak of a woman.

My bobute on her wedding day in Fellbach, Germany (1948)

My Oma's (Czech for grandmother) favourite Australian native tree is the Casuarina whose common name is sheoak. I love this combination of oak with the feminine pronoun. Casuarina (the scientific genus name) is also quite sweet as it relates to the branchlets (great word, branchlets*) looking like cassowary feathers.

My oma in Australia after she left the Czech Republic in late 1939

Casuarina tree in my parent's garden (feat. Pepper the dog)

*I have a giggle when the lead character of the TV show Miranda relishes the sound of words

If there is a particular tree that is important to your family, I would love to hear. You can email me at


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