Saturday, January 30

A Once in a Lifetime Event

The seed had fallen to the ground some twenty years before, one small hope amongst several thousand siblings. They succumbed to drought, starvation or local predators.

But not this one.

Feet dug ever deeper into the soil beneath. Grey trunk body thickened year by year whilst branching arms stretched newly bursting bud tips ever higher towards the sky with the start of each Spring.

Oh yes it was hard work.

Older & stronger trees had claimed this ground scores of years before when the seedling's parent was little more than the same hopeful shoot hidden deep in the undergrowth.

But the niche the seedling had carved out for itself was a careful one. Balancing nutrient from the earth around about, while threading its head upwards in a continual challenge to touch the sun despite the growing shade crown of mightier neighbours.

And even whilst competing for that light our tree & its neighbours talked together, as trees so often do. If only one stops to listen.

On calm sunny days little was said. The sun's life force beaming down made all else secondary.

But bare branched, during winter gales, the trees swayed and rocked as one. Chattering to each other as they told tales of mighty storms now long past. The movement of their branches exciting a temporary camaraderie.

Today that feeling was a distant memory. Maybe something that would not occur again.

For something was not right.

An orange spot, a splash of paint, had appeared on the tree's trunk. One chosen alongside others across the area. The mark of Cain? Or a sign of promising things ahead?

No matter - what will be will be. The tree waited. For it lived patience.

A lone walker, black and white dog at heel, appeared at the crest of the rise moving steadily down the track alongside the tree's domain.

And then it happened.

It arrived with that wisdom of inevitability. A product of hindsight's clear path to the moment when a world changes.

The tree felt its solid grasp on the earth's surface slip. Slowly it started to topple. Its airy head moving towards the ground far below.

The walker looked up at the sudden noise of something heavy tearing through woodland. Looking groundwards he expect to see a regular movement of deer. Or perhaps a few bulky New Forest cattle crashing through the dead bracken.

Instead a blur of green swaying leaves moving above his eye line grabbed at his attention.

He concentrated on the sight until the fall was complete.

The tree, after one storm too many & the increasing weight of rampant ivy around its trunk, had accepted the inevitability of physical laws and toppled to the ground.

Not with a crash. More a gentle murmur of rustling foliage, before a final dullen flat thud. The shared noise that comes with any large & very heavy object returning to earth.

For a few moments the walker continue to stare, taken aback by the event's suddenness.

And then, leaving the path, he walked over to the tree. Leaves once again still after a final airy flight. Roots snapped clean. The ground from whence they had been torn already resettling. This disturbance, obvious now, to quickly disappear with a few weeks of rain & frost.

One uniquely precise & fleeting moment. An infinitesimal hap chance amongst endless trillions of complex life force interactions across the Earth. And of all space and time.



I went for a walk in the New Forest today.

By chance I saw a tree fall to the ground.

No-one else was around.

And yes, it made a sound......or rather two.

One while it fell.

And a second that still rings deep inside me at the incredible odds of seeing it happen.

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Comments:
A great piece of prose.

Very moving.
 
That happened to me a few years ago in Epping Forest. It was a very tall tree and only about 50 metres away. Scared the life out of me!
 
Nice stuff John. Keep it up !!!
 
Very reflective and provoking post John.
 
Glad it entertained
;-)
 
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