The bark is smooth, then rough.
It is sticky as it cries out “My time in the forest is coming to an end. I once was tall, bending in the gentle breeze. But now my last branch hangs on its own with one little seed left on. It holds on until a gust of wind takes it into the dark, cold winter’s night, travelling miles from the place he knew as home for years “.
Floating high in the night sky full of stars; the moon glowing as I drift on the winter air, up and down, rolling along to where only the wind knows.
The morning sun breaks the horizon and looking down I see the countryside below me, white with frost from another winter’s night.
Geese fly past me arriving from who knows where. They stay together in formation looking for the place they return to every year; a place green with lush grass and water to clean their feathers off from the long journey.
The wind slows down making me fall slowly downwards to earth. I do hope I land in a peaceful place, one with more trees that I can share my tales with; where I came from, and how my old tree had come to rest from a strange disease.
Bouncing, bouncing. Along the forest floor I come to rest in leaves that cover the ground.
Colours; golden and rusty brown. Crisp. Curled upwards as they take their last gasp of life before decomposing into the soil to help more forms of life.
Some leaves will be taken high into the trees for the Squirrel to live in over winter, others cover the the little Hedgehog keeping him warm as he sleeps through the cold.
Looking up I see the sun punching beams of light through the canopy. So bright, giving early morning warmth to me.
I am getting ready for my new life, looking around at the structures standing like soldiers. Some tall, some small, some coming to the end of their life.
One looks sad as his bark falls off and the leaves are no more. Sick from disease, it still stands strong. It will give the woodpecker a home, and mice and other small creatures somewhere to live, helping them to survive the winter.
Before it falls it still plays an important part in the forest. It can be a perch for a Tawny owl as he sits looking down patiently for his next meal. A Coal Tit chips away at the rotting bark as he tests it for next year’s nest site.
The wood vole finds a small hole that leads to a place of safety, but be careful – Mr Tawny sits above at night. Insects crawl on it making more holes, resting from predators; they make an easy meal for the Tree Creeper who takes the insects back to his little chicks all hungry with mouths wide open.
Drops of rain fall gently on my fragile body. I start to sink – slowly at first and then I rest deeper in the warm soil.
I am warm and I sleep.
There is warmth in the air and the leaves around me have all gone – where did they go?
The Squirrel pops his head out of his leafy nest, stretching for the time in four months.
The leaves start to move and a little nose pokes out. Hello Mrs hedgehog – did you sleep well? Turning away, she walks off slowly, looking for food.
It looks like I am on my own in the woods, but then another green leaf breaks the surface of the soil.
It is just like me – a young tree starting out in life, needing lots of light, rain and sun. We grow together, reaching for the canopy. We see humans walk past with animals that use me for a toilet break.
Time goes fast.
My small branches reach out like arms, with small buds like fingers.
I look across at the old tree, and the woodpecker has made a hole and inside I hear the young calling out for grubs. The tree is rotting fast, and it won’t be long before it crashes to the ground – hopefully not on me.
The woodpecker chicks fledge. Tawny owl uses it for hunting.
Then one night the wind picks up and I hear a cracking sound. Then the ground shakes.
Another day dawns and the once strong, magnificent tree is lying on the forest floor.
I watch as new creatures take refuge in it. The Stoat checks out the tunnel running through it, playing with it’s young.
I grow tall and strong, but my friend that grew next to me didn’t make it; the Roe deer found it to hard to resist.
I am older now with big strong branches reaching out for light and sun. The Buzzard sits high on my shoulder gazing over the countryside. The Nuthatch makes me laugh as it crawls under my branches, looking for somewhere to lodge it’s Sunflowers seeds.
The Butterfly lays it’s eggs on my leaves, and the greenfly make me itch.
Planes pass in the sky. The farmer collects his hay bails. People walk past telling stories about how the trek was.
One man walks past, talking to himself, “That’s a nice tree. I could make some nice owls with that wood”. We will meet again.
Word spreads through the forest that a storm is coming from America and will hit our land in days. The fear grows more as people say how much damage the storm is causing. My roots are strong, but being on my own they roots can’t hang on to other roots which would give me an anchor for support.
Standing silent in the dark the wind picks up, followed by rain.
I start to bend as the wind picks up speed.
Crash goes one in the distance, followed by another.
My branches start to break, then my top half snaps.
Is this what a tree’s life is all about? Grow tall only to be knocked down by the elements?
I am back where I started on the forest floor.
As I dropped, I shook my remaining branches hard to release my seeds. if I go like this, I will at least leave behind my seeds to live on in the forest.
I wake up lying on the forest floor, surrounded by other trees young and old. Looking further, I see the old tree with rotten bark still standing.
I see a man in green and black blotchy clothing, carrying a machine.
He pulls it and the machine makes a loud noise.
He cuts me into sections and carries me back to his van.
He sings as he makes pencil marks in me and begins his new project. Hours pass, his face making strange expressions. I lay in his living room for a night, alone until he picks me up to start work again.
Turning me in all directions he smiles and starts rubbing me all over with rough material.
The master hands hold chisels and a mallet, and carefully he makes me look very attractive. He covers me in wet smelly liquid and leaves me to dry.
He carries me in his arms and places me outside where I started life as a seed.
I can see trees everywhere and it makes me feel at home.
From a seed, to a tree, to a man who through love, dedication and skill made me into a beautiful owl carving.