poetry and prose about place

hidden in the hollow heart of an oak

with 7 comments

Hollow trees create mysterious spaces in the woods. 

When I was young, a hollow in a tree was a secret hiding place for treasures, and one of my favourite books was a Nancy Drew mystery –  “The Message in the Hollow Oak”.   In the story, a hollow tree is used as a secret mailbox between long lost lovers.

Carolyn Keene 1935 The Message in the Hollow Oak   (a later edition, probably around 1965)
The best use of cavities in trees or logs is as habitat for insects, bats, owls and other small animals.  Hollows are good locations for foraging.  They also create shelter, and provide a place for nesting.  Animals who use hollow trees or logs for habitat are called “hollow-dependant”.

a hollow log in the woods

Cavities are usually found in mature trees.  Their importance as habitat is a good reason for protecting older, mature trees in the woodlot.  When my son was young, we made wooden signs saying “DEN TREE” for the older hollow trees in our woods, so we would remember not to cut them down. 

Do you know a hollow tree and would you reach into the cavity to retrieve a letter???



requesting the favour of a reply


these leafless trees

brush against

a linen sky

ink strokes

on rice paper


penned at midnight


hidden in the hollow

heart of an oak

afraid to reach in

to feel only

curls of bark

desiccated leaves


these trees

all seem the same

empty envelopes

parchment ghosts


branches tangled




black spruce scribbled on sky



Published as: ‘an answer in silence’, Spring 1995, The Cormorant XI (2)


© Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 19, 2011 at 6:54 am

7 Responses

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  1. 🙂



    August 20, 2011 at 8:53 am

  2. I know “The Hardy Boys” would….without even fliching, probably get wacked on the head (for the 23rd time) in the process and then solve the whole mystery when they came to …. .



    August 19, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    • Hi JD. Frank would definately find the secret message, even if it was hidden in the hollow heart of an oak!. Jane


      jane tims

      August 19, 2011 at 10:16 pm

  3. It’s almost like a message in a bottle, except that it stays put. Leaving a message in the hollow of a tree sounds so romantic I wonder why I never thought of it when I was a teenager. A tree would add some wonderful energy to any note left there, making the love stronger, and lovers would soon discover that not all trees are the same… 😉 Poignant poem – lovely!


    Barbara Rodgers

    August 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    • Hi Barbara. Thanks for your words. I am really drawn to any kind of mystery. The poem began when I looked at the tree tops and realised how much they look like scribbles on the sky and, of course, I wondered what they were saying…. Jane


      jane tims

      August 19, 2011 at 7:23 pm

  4. Keep up the good work! I am enjoying your blogs and poetry. I laughed at the Nancy Drew book photo (my book is the exact same edition) and blog, and enjoyed Zoe’s poem. And no, I would not put my hand in a tree cavity to retrieve anything! :o)



    August 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    • How many Nancy Drews do you have? I have various editions (even one from Australia) and all numbers up to 52 or so. Jane


      jane tims

      August 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm

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