While in Peru, Breanna Reynolds’ humanities students selected a SPEED (social, political, environmental, economic, or demographic) factor to study in depth. In looking at the environmental factors Peruvians face, 10th grader Harry W wrote the short story “The Tree,” which exposes deforestation and is told from the narrative view of a tree itself.
Decades of existence within the woods enlightened me to treat every living form as one amongst us, as I was taught by my predecessors. I stood among the gigantic trees, the tiny trees, the youthful ones, the wiser ones, the bushes and the shrubs in the forest. I was a tree in between: not too big, not too small.
To strengthen the background of the deep forest, an alluring river flowed. I stood on the bank of the river -the best area for me- where I thought deeply. I observed my reflection in the water that lay beneath me. So, I was the most exquisite creation God could ever have dared make. The ripples in the water seemed to hypnotize me. The longer I stared, the more drawn in I became. The chirping of sparrows surrounded me, disturbing my thoughts.
A little sparrow had made a nest on one of my long, extended branches. On the nest housed baby sparrows and they chirped loudly, crying for their prolonged mother. They nibbled on the sweet berries that grew on me. One time, my branches extended long enough to provide shade to “human venturers through the forest,” who enjoyed their little packed lunches and napped under me. I felt proud of what may be, the little joy I shared with the other races of life in this world.
The brief wind that blew through all of us swayed my leaves to and fro in bliss. This was the most magnificent time of the year, the captivating spring season and its accompanying birth of flowers and fruits. I had experienced one season to the next. The autumn shed tears within me and I witnessed myself slowly growing bald. The nonstop drizzle during the rainy season refreshed me, and the drops of water that dripped with haste from my leaves adorned me like shining jewels.
The evening sunlight inched through my branches and leaves. A herd of deer directed ahead to the stream. A few of these animals licked the water up and down from the river while the rest happily devoured the crisp green grass that stood firmly on the banks. This herd of deer always trotted quietly, in dread of the deadly carnivorous animals to which many had become the prey. The sunset had slowly set and the animals moved in herds back to their haven.
The heavens looked like a tarp with tints of orange and gray. The sunlight had dissolved and darkness was about to engulf the sky. Another day in the forest had finished.
I took notice of the rattles of the snakes in the murkiness . They were everywhere – on the ground, on my trunk, and on my branches. A handful of howls and whimpers from animals filled the dusky air. Not much later, the whole woodland became hushed with the dwellers deep in unstirred slumber.
The night ended quickly and transformed into a shining radiant dawn, with light piercing through the woodland. The forest was once more full of the chirps and teehees of birds. I looked at the hummingbirds engaging with newly bloomed flowers. For the first time ever, I felt desirous of the beautiful movement they portrayed.
I could listen to the river singing underneath me. The river protected frogs, fish and crocodiles. The sunshine sank through my branches and leaves. I looked at the little fishes that played happily in the river.
Abruptly, I overheard some noises and they appeared to draw nearer. As they became distinct, I identified them to be of humans. The forest whispers said that they saw a few human crews throughout the year and I expected one; however, the noise determined a crowd of them. As the noise drew nearer, a few of the birds that sat on the biggest trees took off. Soon I saw the entire crew of strong humans heading steadily towards us, the men carrying sharp-looking tools, accompanied by machines which I had never seen before. An elephant about the size of a well-grown tree was with them. This elephant looked like a human, with its face and body explicitly showing the tiredness of work and burden.
Not even realizing what was happening, I could sense the “sawing machines” had cut through my fellow friends. They wept in pain while the rest of us cried out for help. One by one, as each tree fell to its demise, they mourned the tears of their final breath. From that moment on, every one of us cursed the humans.