Years and years ago, in a small thicket just over the next
hill and through the woods beyond the horizon, there happened to be the site of
a horrid and horrible incident. There have always been talks of what happened
that day, some have heard the story whispered to them while walking alone in
the woods, others have heard the story quietly hissed on the wind. There are
some that remember that day, others that just remember hearing the screams, and
still to this day, some that are here to tell the story of what happened in
that small thicket hidden in the woods. I am one of those that still tells the
story to those who want to know the truth of what really happened that day. For
those who can really hear. Do you want to know the truth?
The sun was just beginning to warm the dirt as it rose in the eastern sky on that cool autumn day. The sun’s rays reached out to the tips of the small grasses that littered the forest floor and stood guard over the roots of all the trees in the thicket. I remember the feeling of the sun warming me as I stood proud in the forest I had grown up in. My family had lived in these parts for centuries and it was the only home we’d ever known. My grandfather still lived across the thicket and he was sure to look after his family that never moved far from his wisdom and protection. My grandfather was strict. “Stand tall!” he’d say. “Don’t slouch!” he’d remind us. My grandfather always stood tall and proud to set a good example for all of us. He had been alive for far longer than any of us and he had developed a connection with nature that allowed him to speak to the forest, the bugs, and the earth. His wisdom was far greater than anything else in the forest and he talked with the trees daily.
The sun’s rays were still low in the sky and they created long shadows that crept across the thicket and into the clearing. For those that can sense these special things, someone like my Grandfather let’s say, there are signs in nature that warn us or lead us in certain directions. That morning was one of those days that the signs were everywhere. A cold wind blew from the north, turning the leaves of the trees down instead of up. The dew that dripped from the leaves and fell to the water’s surface below made small bubbles that sat on the surface. More than these signs though, was the bluish gray haze that rose in the air just on the outset of the thicket. The haze and the deafening roar that echoed off the tree trunks brought all of us to attention. My Grandfather stood his ground in expectation of what all of these signs could mean.
The next thing we heard still makes my body go stiff and rigid. It was a shrill and horrid scream from one of our neighbors to the north. The screams echoed through our bodies and hit us like a whirlwind! First it was one scream, then many screams, all breaking the peacefulness of that autumn morning. The next thing we witnessed was the inhabitants of the nearest village running in our direction with fear in their wide eyes. Their heads swung back and forth wildly looking for a place to hide from the coming evil that slowly made its way toward our village. A high pitched squeal, silence, then an enormous crash made the liquid in my body stop and run cold. There was something headed our way!
Slowly emerging from the woods was a small red vehicle that bounced across the tree roots and rocks that littered the ground between us and it. A head came out of the driver’s side window and let out a loud “Yeeehaw!” that made everything in its path cower. That was, everything but my Grandfather, who stood proud and strong in between this red rolling beast and all of us. My Grandfather had sensed them coming hours earlier and had been preparing to protect his family. The red car slowly rumbled to a stop and both the driver’s and passenger’s door swung open. A clumsy foot covered in a mid calf sock and oversized frumpy shoe stepped out onto the warm dirt ground. As the rest of the leg made it’s way out of the vehicle, the whole person came into view. Their frumpy shoes were connected to hairy legs that were covered by a pair of red and blue shorts that were a bit too short and white tank top that fit just a touch too tight around their chubby stomach. The passenger was dressed the same except for the greasy hand prints that covered their shorts and mid torso. The strangest thing about their appearance was their overly long arms that made their knuckles appear to almost drag on the ground. “Whoooeeee, you’re ours now! Don’t try getting away now, ya hear!” they hollered in our direction.
My Grandfather silently whispered that we were in trouble. These two neanderthals had bad intentions and we were what their bloodshot eyes were set on. They wanted our thicket but it wasn’t going down without a fight! My Grandfather had been preparing for a battle ages ago and had collected weapons to defend our thicket from outsiders. The outer area of the thicket was surrounded by Hawthorns that were sure to tear some flesh from the pea brains that were eyeing us up. Under the Hawthorns was a thick row of Multi-floral roses that would snag clothes and skin where the Hawthorns had missed. Multiple holes among the roots were ready for an unsuspecting ankle or leg to slip inside ending in the sickening snap of broken bone. Grandfather had been prepared for this!
The hairy knuckle draggers stumbled to the back of the vehicle where they proceeded to ingest 2 cans of a golden liquid that stunk of bitter hops and barley. Next they grabbed 2 chainsaws out of the hatch near the back of their vehicle. Each grabbed the saws, picking them up and then dropping them down while pulling a cord attached to the side. After many ups and downs, many swear words yelled, finally the saws roared to life with the chains spinning at a tremendous rate right near their hair and short covered legs. What was their plan with these roaring weapons of spinning steel and plastic? “Let’s get 'em!” hollered Doofus 1 to Doofus 2.
The words, “Stand proud, don’t slouch” echoed inside of me as I stood my ground and waited for these 2 nature haters to get into the first step of our trap. Sure enough, Doofus 1 started cutting into the nearest Hawthorn that blocked the way between our village and their rumbling red bucket of rust. The Hawthorn teetered one way then another before finally succumbing to gravity and falling in the complete opposite direction than what the “tree cutter” had expected. To the horrible surprise of Doofus 2, the Hawthorn fell onto his back with it’s long thorns piercing his skin. The howl that echoed through the forest rivaled that of the roar of Doofus 1’s chainsaw! Doofus 2 rolled out from under the thorny tree, looking like a bloody pincushion that had been drenched in white trash and lagers. The yelling match and line of profanities that ensued between Doofus 1 and Doofus 2 was one I’d rather forget than have to recite.
After the bickering ended, the Doofus Twins started stomping through the hole they’d made by killing the Hawthorn. Just as they made it over the trunk, they were caught up in the Rose bushes that tore at the exposed hairy skin of their legs. Howls and hollers echoed through the thicket as they fought their way to the other side of the hedge. The next step was a doozy as their glassy alcohol fueled eyes tried to navigate a path through the potholes and leg breakers made up of all the twisted roots leading up to where I stood. After multiple tumbles, curse words and bruised shins, they slowly raised their heads in my direction. “You’re all ours now sucker!!!” they screamed in a fury as they started to ascend the mass of roots, rock and dirt that I stood atop.
As the “tree cutter cousins” came within feet of me, I could feel the hot air of their lungs pumping out from the steep climb to where I held my ground. They revved the engines of their saws in hopes of intimidating me with the high pitched scream of the 2 stroke motor and the acrid taste of the smoke in the air. “Stand proud!” my Grandfather’s voice screamed inside of me! Slowly Doofus 1 brought the tip of his revving chainsaw within millimeters of me. I could feel the hot bar oil spraying on me as the spinning teeth crept ever closer. I could only stand my ground hoping to protect all of those that stood behind me. Just as the screaming chain started to peel into me, I heard a creaking sound that could mean only one thing. My Grandfather was making the legend come true! The legend of “Sudden Limb Drop!” Just as the chain broke through my bark and started its way into my phloem, a massive limb fell from my Grandfather’s side, crushing both of the knuckle draggers into the now warmed dirt of the earth.
Slowly the echo of the chainsaw’s roar quieted and the leaves finally settled after the huge crash of the limb. The knuckle draggers were goners at this point and the forest floor slowly sucked their bodies into the ground to be eaten by microorganisms and other creatures of the forest. My Grandfather shot up suckers from his roots that quickly grew around the rust bucket that the “tree cutters” would no longer need. The car was trapped between all of the suckers as a warning sign to the next nature haters that would try to come to cut down our family of Oaks that had stood in this grove since before they were born. This was our thicket and no one was going to come in and take us down.
This story has long been passed through our forest as a warning to other thickets to stay vigilant to those who step foot into our sacred stretches of earth. My Grandfather’s ever stretching mycorrhizal network stretches further than any other tree in our forest and his ability to warn others is paramount with that of a god. Maybe if this story makes its way into the hands of the humans who threaten our way of life, they will learn it’s a much smarter idea to walk through the woods and be one with nature instead of trying to overtake it!
Hopefully you got some enjoyment out of this story at the expense of Doofus 1 and 2. If you are interested in the actual ability of trees being able to communicate with each other, be sure to read Peter Wohlleben’s national bestseller The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate - Discoveries from a Secret World.