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A fallen giant

by Tom Cillemi

The trunk of the giant willow oak remains.

A giant oak tree fell last week. After dominating the forest for more than a century the huge tree was fractured by an irresistible wind that howled through Saluda on Thursday, August 7.

The ancient tree, weakened by age, succumbed to nature’s fury. In a moment the massive willow oak was broken, lying on the ground.

Nary a thing is still alive that remembers when it was a sprout.

The fall of the giant means life for many more. Young saplings that had struggled under the giant’s canopy now stretch toward pure sunlight. Their thin, wavering trunks hold leaves that will now drink in the life-giving sun and grow straight to someday be giants of the forest.

Insects now burrow into the ailing giant, building nests, caring for their next generation. And, in this process, they speed the decay of the giant into the elements from which it came.
In time, a very long time, the giant’s trunk will disintegrate and slowly free more nutrients for other trees to feed.

Humans scramble to cut the giant into pieces—firewood that will release the energy from the sun and earth that has been stored for decades in the giant’s massive limbs.

Under a cobalt blue sky, a lone squirrel scurries around the giant’s fractured trunk, perhaps looking for its nest.

Cicadas’ wings blow in the wind, clicking a familiar sound of summer.

They surely will note the change in the cycle of life.

posted 08.18.2008

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