LYNN HAVEN — After losing a more than 200-year-old hickory tree in her backyard to Hurricane Michael, Lynn Haven resident Pam Kirkland decided to make Christmas ornaments out of it.
“The hickory tree in our backyard was massive,” Kirkland said. “Our kids grew up playing under that tree and it just broke my heart because it was completely uprooted. I said, ‘I want to do something to bring beauty out of this ash,’ because we’re all just devastated with all the loss.”
Kirkland wondered if she could carve something out of the tree, since as a little girl she spent time with her grandfather, who whittled items out of wood. She was taught knife safety back then and turned it into a creative outlet after the hurricane, which was upgraded to a Category 5 on Friday.
“I went out and got some of the limbs off the hickory and started working on it and when one of them turned out, I said, ‘Well, maybe I can do another one,’ ” Kirkland said. “It just went from that to another. For Christmas, I gave our children and grandchildren an ornament.”
Kirkland shared pictures of the ornaments on Facebook, and her hobby grew. Friends said they wished they had something like that, which spurred Kirkland to make them tree ornaments.
“I didn’t do it thinking I was going to get into this. I just did it as a memory,” Kirkland said. “I had a friend contact me and she said, ‘We lost our oak trees.’ I said, ‘Do you still have any of your oak?’ She said, ‘I do.’ And I said, ‘We’ll run by there.’ So I did her a couple.”
Kirkland gave other oak ornaments to another couple she knows who lost everything.
“I’ve just done them as encouragement for friends and gifts as memories of something they lost in their yard. It’s a wonderful feeling,” Kirkland said. “We’ve got so much destruction. They’ve got something now at Christmastime or to sit on their shelf that says, ‘I remember my tree. This was something from my tree. I don’t have to remember the pictures of all the devastation of all the trees that are down. I can have something pleasant to remember the loss.’ ”