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What the death of an oak tree can teach us about mortality

Amid this year’s titanic political and social upheavals, the town of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, found time for quiet mourning. One of the East Coast’s most famous trees, a centuries-old great white oak that spread its serpentine limbs over a cemetery beside the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church, was dying. In October, the tree was pronounced dead; a month later, distraught …