A Trees Dream
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Tara Fox Hall
Over a hill, across a lake and beyond a superhighway, grew a tree.
It had been grown in a field as a little seedling for years along with many others of its kind.
While these trees were well watered and fed with bright sunshine and many nutrients of the enriched soil, there was the feeling of unnaturalness in the well ordered, even rows.
Sometimes, a truck would pass by bearing trees in pots, their roots bagged, bound for somewhere else.
As they grew larger with the seasons, the trees whispered to each other with fluttering leaves of the homes they hoped one day to have.
Some of the trees wished to be useful, to provide homes for birds or other animals, some wished for their own building to shade, others just wished for a wide-open spot so they might absorb sunlight enough to touch the stars.
Others liked being with their own kind, and longed to stay in the neatly ordered rows forever.
Time passed, the trees at last reached the height of planting.
Each was carefully dug from its loose soil, prepared for shipment and carried by forklift to await pickup.
As they waited for the truck to arrive they rested in the shade of a giant oak, whispering to it excitedly of their hopes and dreams.
But the oak tree didn't respond.
"What do you dream of?" one sapling asked.
"I dream of beginnings," the oak said sadly. "I dream of the place we once all knew as home, there was rich loam and moist air, all around was the laughing of a thousand trees."
"Where is that?" the sapling asked.
"I dream of the forest," the oak said. "and I know I shall never see it again."
Just then the truck rolled up and the trees were quickly loaded, the little sapling wishing as hard as it could that the truck would take them to the forest of which the oak had spoken.
Instead of the forest, the little sapling was taken with the others to a subdivision of houses.
Each one was planted carefully in a front yard, this little sapling by a young, newly married couple.
This is not too bad, thought the tree. I have friends to whisper to nearby and that's what matters.
Over time, the tree was content.
Squirrels made a home in its branches and trunk, sunlight and water helped it grow tall and strong.
Children of the couple were born and grew, playing beneath it and climbing its branches.
As many years passed the tree grew and grew, green and tall.
More years passed.
As the tree grew into maturity, it became sad, all its children were pulled up or mowed down by the couple.
Many of its sister trees who had been planted nearby had toppled in storms, fallen to disease, or been cut down when the house changed hands.
The children of the couple had grown and left the house, it was now alone, the only thing of happiness was its faded memory of the old oak, and that image of the forest it had spoken of.
More years passed.
The couple grew older.
One of them passed away and the grass that had always been mowed was allowed to grow.
As the months passed, small tiny saplings at the tree's base spread their two leaves, reaching for the sun.
The mother tree was worried for them, it had been hard enough to lose sprouts.
Many trees young and old didn't survive new owners and there was a sign in the yard near her trunk that had always meant new owners.
In a few weeks, the sign was taken down.
A truck came along bearing a chainsaw in the back, the tree cringed inside as the man measured her trunk and took notes.
She felt only slight relief when the man got in his truck and left.
That afternoon, another car drove up, a middle-aged woman got out then went to the tree.
"You probably don't remember me," she said, touching the bark with her hand. "I didn't visit as often as I should've, now mom and dad are gone."
She ran her hands over the trunk.
"I had a lot of great memories here but I can't take you home with me, you're too big."
She shrugged. "I live in an apartment, anyway."
She turned and went to her car then she came back with four buckets and a spade. "But I can take them."
Carefully, she dug up the small saplings from around the tree and put them in buckets.
As she did, the small trees cried out fearfully to the mother tree.
"Don't be afraid," the mother tree comforted. "You're going to a new place, grow well and tall but always remember the forest I told you of, and tell your children so that they will tell their children.
Keep the memory of the forest alive.
The little trees were packed into the car and driven away.
They travelled for many hours.
After being unpacked, they were set near a pile of mulch.
"We're going to be mulch!" a timid one cried.
"We're not enough to make one shovelful," a brave sapling replied. "Wait and be calm."
The trees were again loaded onto a truck, they worried as they set off again.
Where were they going, to be yard trees for a house?
Were they going to a tree farm?
With amazement they noticed the houses began to fall away, along with the noise.
The hills, which had been grass and flowers, became fields of wheat and corn and then amazingly, there was just a wall of green.
What a sight! Towering trees, some of them 200 feet high! The feel of it!
Then suddenly the little trees were again in the sunlight.
Something had happened here, there was the scent of burnt wood in the air.
Most of the land was grey and brown, with only a bit of grass and flowers scattered here and there.
The trees were unpacked, then carefully planted.
"There was a fire here," the woman said as she planted them. "This state forest is being replanted, you'll have a good home here."
She touched a small green leaf, "Here, no one will cut you down."
Picking up the empty pots, she walked away.
The trees reached their roots deep into the soil, blissfully happy.
The forest was real and they had reached it.
Their dream had come true.
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