I turn towards the sky, feeling the wind playing in my branches. My leaves turn up and I eat the sun’s warmth and nutrients. My roots dig deep, seeking water, they whisper to my neighbors: She is here. My neighbors echoed the comforting sentiment. It is another day.
I remember my first day. I poked out of the dark soil. Curious. Tentative. Before that day, I had only known darkness. Only known the tightness of the seed and then the release of energy that came after. Expanding in every direction seeking something unknown. Seeking light without knowing what light was.
“Look, Arty, they’re growing!” she said excitedly. I felt the earth shake and tremble as the voice came closer. A shadow fell over me. I trembled. I didn’t know yet not to be scared of her. I didn’t know she would treat me well. I only knew this was new. She was new. Everything was new.
Hands brushed away the soil clinging to my questing shoots, exposing them more to the sun. The sun tasted delicious. She tended the others the same as me. I wasn’t the only one in the tiny garden, but my roots were too shallow yet to reach. Meeting them would have to wait.
Every day she came, I could feel her footsteps nearby. We learned anticipation. Waiting for our time with her. She would water us if we were thirsty. The soil beneath us would turn dark our roots would soak up the the nutrients until our leaves were plump and green.
We blossomed for her and bore fruit. She would bend close and make sure no one crowded us too close and we all had enough room to grow. And when the tiny biting insects came, she brushed them off and kept them away by keeping us strong.
Under her care we grew fast. We grew strong. I grew until my bark tingled with energy, my branched felt tight, and my roots curled with anticipation. I didn’t understand this new sensation. I felt like I was sparking in the sun. Every fiber was tense, expectant.
The others felt the same. But she moved between us kneeling close. I waited for my turn.
Then she came to me as leaned close and whispered into the air – “Happy birthday” – and all the energy was released around me. Swirling up from my roots and sparkling through my leaves. She laughed as the sparkles ticked. This was evolving. Growing without getting bigger. I learned joy.
By the time she brought her son to meet us, our roots were deep and connected. We whispered to each other. Something’s different. Those on the edge sent. I was taller than most and was the first to meet him. He reached up and laughed as the sunlight shone through my leaves.
He came many times after that. She would tell him about us, about our needs, about our likes and dislikes. When he was old enough he would sometimes help her tend us. We watched him grow and play nearby. He was careful never to crush us underfoot.
Among all the changes there was always one constant. She is our constant. Tending us daily no matter how many of us there were or what we needed. Those of us who had been here since the beginning would tell the others about her when they first came. Wait, she is coming. We would tell them when they grew thirsty or the tiny bugs bit. It’ll be okay. We would tell them when they felt too crowded. She’ll take care of you.
Yesterday though, out roots were silent. Today is the first day she will not be coming. The boy who had grown up explained it to us. He explained that she wasn’t coming anymore. That he would continue to care for us. That it would be okay.
He explained that she was underground, deep below. The ground trembled beneath us as we heard the news, our roots strained, seeking. She is here. Roots echoed the message. We all relaxed.
Yesterday we learned sorrow.