Wednesday, April 19, 2006

In Honor of Earth Day, April 22nd

Fall Tree

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven, a time to be born, and a time to die….”

In the spring the tree is an inspiration of life. Dark green teardrop shaped leaves attached to deep mahogany branches laugh when gently tickled with April showers. Randomly scattered on each branch are the beginnings of small shoots pushing their way through the thin coarse bark. After breaking through, these shoots begin to bloom, blossoming into their own flower patch. The miniature clusters of flowers glisten when the early morning sun shines on the small droplets of spring dew that silver coats the flowers. The tree flourishes.

Summer TreeIn the summer, a hot afternoon breeze causes the tree to perform exotic dances. The baking of the dry summer sun dulls the olive green color. The branches slightly sag for they have a new burden to bear. The lightweight, dainty blossoms are no more. Now the tree bears fully ripened fruit. Big perfect round black berries with a reddish tint catch the eye. The tree flaunts its treasure, black pearls that tempt all curious spectators. Pirates, or small sparrows and other scavengers raid the tree of its riches. With berries gleaming in the blistering summer sun, excitement of the chattering birds and the other scavengers feasting, the tree is the center of activity.

Fall TreeAs nights begin to cool and the hectic days slow down the tree no longer has any ornaments to attract the small creatures. As other vegetation sheds its color, the tree merely changes its garments from the shades of green to bold and noble tones. The tree is like an antique queen with a burgundy-wine cloak, a chestnut sash, and a golden crown. Soon though, when the first light frost crystallizes her kingdom in silver, the majestic tree begins to droop. The kingdom slowly enters eternal slumber, and it is time for the queen tree to bow down. The first golden leaf flutters to the ground. Fall days grow shorter as the once mahogany branches turn neutral. The sullen tree has lost its last leaf and left silent.

Early winter, as usual, brings frigid winds and no snow. In a few eyes, the tree is no longer a gallant figure. It resembles a skeleton with bone branches entangled with each other. Eyes now glance through the narrow branches down the crooked trunk to the overlooked mound of dirt. Dried wiry vines have wrapped themselves around the rusted railing of an old wrought iron fence. Some of the somber bars lean out of place. Small gaps in the rickety fence have allowed the new sprouts from the mother tree to creep through. The slightly below kneecap fence encloses only a small area. Here sits a little wooden cross concealed by a few low hung branches. The base of the cross is wedged in a crack of the hard frozen earth. The apex of the cross rest against the sturdy trunk of the tree. Except for a small crack at the base and a chip missing from the top right hand corner, the tree has preserved this marker quite well. At the foot of the cross lies the remains of a lily, which was once growing wild in the garden beside the tree. Its faded limp petals draped delicately up against the bottom of the cross, as the small hand of a girl arranged them so last spring.

The tree that sang in the spring, shouted in the summer, sighed in the fall, changes to a silenced mourner as the first winter snowflakes softly begin to fall.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven, a time to be born, and a time to die….”

By S.L.L.

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