How does it feel to learn you are about to end—that you will never be here anymore? And how does it feel when you know it while standing for well over a hundred years? That’s how long I have been here—through so many winters, summers, springs, and falls—nurturing creatures big and small for years and sheltering many creatures with my sprawled branches and thick leaves. Many people who once sat by me, walked past me, of various ages and appearances are no more. Yet I lived past their lives. But now…
But now I’m not so certain if I will last a hundred more years, a hundred more weeks, or even a hundred more days. One season’s change and I could see myself uprooted and withering. One season’s change and the creatures that depended on me so could find themselves lacking. Not because this summer will be especially harsh, or dry, but because that piercing, wretched sound has finally started in my part of the forest. I’ve heard it approaching, stalking closer with a slow and steady pace. I’ve heard the gnashing of its teeth and the ripping of its claws just before it drags my friends off to some far-off horrific fate.
Machines and helicopters have begun to remove hundreds of my friends, scattered all over the place. How long before they get to me?
Wait! What is this new, stronger noise? Who are these people gathering over there, hundreds, no thousands of them? What is going to happen today?
I see the hordes of newcomers are getting on the bodies of my friends the helicopter chains were ready to lift for the industry. The sheer weight of people standing on the cargo fails the helicopters to fly off. The copters are lowering, surrendering their chains to be unhooked. All the digging machines are coming to a halt.
Police sirens are futile in their attempt to gain control of the situation. “Stop! Go home. This is the police,” was shouted on their speakers. But no one seems to give a damn. It’s war. I clearly hear the drumming now. People are shouting aloud in harmony: “Peace to our forest! Peace to our forest!” The marching army of civilians is approaching the workers now.
Alas, in my moment of fear and weakness, I delivered too much of my energy to the root systems. I shared my stored energy with the young ones around me—the ones ignored by this industry. They know to grow slowly and bend easily so that they might not be broken by the people and machines that were coming after my kind. I am aware of twenty-seven children I’ve created, of whom twelve have been taken, their bodies to be used in some way I know not by these vicious thieves. What’s this? Some of these people who work against the industry are there in my children’s branches, preventing the industry from proceeding. How lovely is that special quality we share with humankind, the instinct to protect our own species, and, in some, perhaps enough, to protect other species as well.
But I fear I have given away too much. All these years, and only now I realize how mistaken we are to believe we know the future.