In the middle of a poison ivy patch, above the stream, the ancient maple loomed proudly exposing a dark, hollow trunk. A huge bulbous knag at the fork of the gnarled limbs was gazing down at me with frog’s eyes. There, I gasped in enchantment. How I wanted to climb that tree! But it was impossible!
A year later, I ventured to the brook for rock samples. Blocking the stream was a giant beaver dam! Without much thinking I ran along its length only to discover the dam was woven into dry branches, braided into the trunk. As I clambered on the fallen tree, I realized it was the same one I was drawn to a year ago. The rotten trunk collapsed, exposing a cave of roots tangles around a giant rock. Wild grapes twined in between branches, bugs skittered around, leafy green plants were beginning to bud in some of the decayed parts. A feeling of grief swept over me. I recollected the grandiose of the weathered beauty which bewitched me before. I lay down on the warm wood, hugging the trunk. The dead maple was still beautiful, beaming with life and energy. Why do people think of fallen trees as litter, polluting the forests? I remembered an article in the newspaper. Dead trees are an important part of the ecosystem. They bring food and shelter to many creatures; the resulting compost is nutritious soil for plants. Most importantly, the wood emits ozone, helping block earth from harmful solar radiation. Dry branches and trunks nurture seedlings, allowing them to mature by protecting them from being burnt and trodden on.
Though fallen, dead trees are not a symbol of death. They portray an odyssey of life with its continuous rebirth, maintaining an intricate balance of nature.
PLANT. LIVE. GROW.