Perspective Piece: Nurturing the nature within

Flash fiction based on a fence post’s story

Angela Ide, Opinions Editor

Photo by Angela Ide

A tiny sapling helplessly bends in the wind as it reaches for the skies among its countless brothers and sisters beside it. This tiny tree was planted within a matrix of young trees with the sole purpose of harvest. There is nothing wild or free in the planting of this tree or any other on this tamed piece of earth.

Given the perfect formula of moisture, nutrients, and soil, this tree towers proudly and solidly next to all the trees that surround it. As the years have passed, this tree has watched as the neighboring apple trees have grown without limitation and faced the wild forces of nature alone. Wind does not tear at this tree like it does the ones across the road. Without the constant eye of the lumber managers and without the sea of impossibly straight trees to break up the wind, this tree is safe while the wild trees are left to become mangled every stormy night and are ripped from the ground with a sudden breaking of ground.

But before this little tree can reach its full glory and height, it is cut down, dissected, and sold to the community members looking to protect themselves from the power of Mother Nature. And this young little tree finds itself a fence post planted under the branches of the glorious apple tree from across the road; barb wire as its new root system. Nothing but tension and sol holding it up. 

From this place in the fence, the post can easily watch the inhabitants of this land scuttle across the manicured lawn, squirrels racing across the wild apple tree’s branches and birds flocking to the fruit that inevitably litters the ground. As the years’ pass, this little fence post soaks in the truly wild spirit that lives and breathes in the world around it. More than mandated growth, life, and death it found in the lumber yard, this fence post encounters the joy of the baby birds that sing in the spring, the graceful power of deer that jump the wire it holds every fall, and the wonder-filled screams of children throwing snowballs every winter.

Again, the years roll on, and the fence post stands resolute and patient as its world changes. The children from the lawn slowly learn to drive, endangering the fence post every time they back out the driveway. The apple trees weary of holding leaves and fruit every October and happily fall into sweet hibernation with the first frost. Still, the fence post stands, watching and soaking in every wild moment life offers. Before long, the top of the fence post wears away, its corners chips, and it starts leaning just slightly towards the children’s house.

Then, almost as if all at once, Mother Nature shows love and mercy for the fence post’s resolute sentry of the world and its man-made heritage. She graces its brow with a beautiful crown she fashioned herself. Mounds of moss of all colors and sizes sprout seamlessly from the grains of wood atop the post mimic the rolling hills that surround them, tiny plants taking root in the gathered soil between the cracks reach towards the sky like this little tree once did, and dew kisses every smooth surface; welcoming this post into the solidarity and community with that world that it was planted into so long ago.