A Fallen Tree Drinks from Horsetrough

This is over. This is the end. The giant old tree had seen many things. A plethora of sunrises peeking over the mountaintops. Streaks of teal, vibrant purples, cornflower yellow; sunsets of every color, and all at once. He wasn’t ready. No bit of his soul was prepared. Hurricane Irma…

And he felt as if the earth itself was saying, as if all the soil said we don’t love you anymore. It’s always a surprise.

There was nothing after this, and it canceled out all the good that had come before. Negated. Erased. If things weren’t eternal, were they even real at all? All those hard times he’d come through to stretch once again in the sunshine. When the soil had generously offered up nutrients, when the thick mangled roots of dear friends, sensing his danger, offered protection.

Why had he tried so hard, grown so tall and beautiful, only to find out in the end he was weak and humiliated by his weakness. On top of the dying. On top of the loneliness. There was shame. He hadn’t stood the test of time afterall.

Hurricane Irma howled so loudly when she broke against the shoreline of the Carolinas and in her grief, she tore so many. To go down in a windstorm, of all things, when he was utterly delighted by them, by the thrashing which cleansed his branches and always left him sparkling at daybreak.

And in those moments when he fell, he thought he was only free and flying.

Then, he lay up to his armpits in mud, his vascular system leaking into the ground. The way he was turned, he could see his favorite branch, the most beautiful one, knobby and long, graceful and stretching–shattered in splintered chunks. And he fainted at this graphic end.

He woke four times in the night, water swelling about him, and went back out.

When sunrise came, he was sleeping.

My sister and I came upon him years later coming out of Whitley Gap and heading towards Horestrough. He was telling jokes to the squirrels as they played in his leaves. Leaves. Life.

“Oh, I had to shift some things around,” he smiled in the morning mist. His broken branches, some of them had been invited into the earth. The Earth that still loved him. “I had to get humble,” he said as a chipmunk squeezed itself into a hollow in his trunk.

His gangly tree butt, gnarled and upended for all the world to see.

My sister and I blushed at his prickly rear, which greeted us unabashed. Sprouts emerged there, green shoots, some twenty feet tall already.

“I am seven trees now, when I was only one. This will happen to you,” he said kindly.

“Already has,” I thought.

“Then, you’ll be ready next time,” he replied. “I am part of the chaos. The chaos is what’s eternal.”

My sister and I wished him a good morning and continued walking down the trail and up a meandering hillside.

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Comments 4

  • Walkie Talkie aka Yoga Sister : Oct 1st

    Walkie Talkie present! My right foot is my parallel to this fallen tree. It is the part of my body that humbles me on the trail. What part of you, physically or mentally, is what humbles you on the trail?

  • Ron Henry : Oct 1st

    Loved the story BUT I want to see the tree!

  • Roz : Oct 2nd

    I have thoughts like these when I see a fallen tree-just never articulate enough to express them. Very beautiful words indeed, thank you!

  • Walkie Talkie : Oct 6th

    Hi Ron! One of the Yoga Sisters here. Like you, I wish we had taken a picture of the tree. It was one of those moments that passed by in an instant, but ended up making a bigger impact than we had known. Much like life, you never know when something is going to affect you until time has passed.


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