Nature Short Fiction #8 – An Arbor Day Dream

Around him the sea of grass rose and fell, rose and fell, shimmering with sunlight like ocean waves catching the sun. The brightness of it – the GREENNESS of it hurt his eyes. But there was no place to go for refuge. All he could do was lie down in the grass and let the tall stems and leaves tower over him providing a shifting sun shelter.

He lay on his side, as straight and thin as a rod from a willow tree. Above his head, a tiny grasshopper sparrow twittered. On a grass stalk just in front of his face an ant paused in its climb upward to wave its antennae at him. On the ground, near his hand, a cricket chirped. The grass whispered. Shhhhhhhh. Shhhhhhhh.

He remembered the willow tree at home, the one that grew on the stream bank, the one whose enormous tangle of thin branches whipped about in the wind. It was the same tree that seemed to droop low in the rain, and the one that provided shelter behind a wide deeply furrowed trunk when the north wind blew.

He knew that there were other types of trees as well, tall maples with leaves that flashed red in the fall, and giant oaks with branches as thick as the trunks of other trees. Trees had names like elm, and ash and alder and birch, pine and spruce and fir and cedar. So many trees existed in the world, but none were in sight.

He reached down and felt the little lumps in his pocket. Uncle had sent him on the mission, and he best get to it. He stood on his toes, so that he could see the grass ocean. He turned in a circle, looking for a break in the waving green, hoping for a place, just one open place near water where a tree might grow. When he saw the break, he moved through the grass toward it. Grasses brushed his legs as he walked, and reached for his arms. He pushed on and on as the sun dropped in the sky.

He heard the stream before he saw it, then, at last, clear water that bubbled over rocks and swirled in a little eddy underneath a creekbank. He slipped over the edge into the water, and let the coolness lick at his feet and toes. Eyes wide, he studied the bank looking for just the right place where a tree’s roots might grab hold. When he found it, he reached into his pocket, grabbed one seed, and pushed it far down into the warm, soft earth. Yes, this is the place, he thought, the perfect place fror a tree to grow big and strong, providing wood for fires and shelter, and making more seeds so that more trees will grow.

Several feet down the bank, he pushed in another seed, and then another, and another.

Later, tired, but satisfied, he lay down on the creekbank and let the babbling water lull him to sleep as night fell.

Tomorrow he’d plant more seeds, and more seeds, and some day, the trees would shade the creek bank. Then all kinds of animals could have a home there, and find shelter from the hot sun.

When he was grown up, there would be a big tree to shelter him from the rain and take a nap under. It all started with the seeds in his pocket.

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