When strolling through a forest, we can experience the relative insignificance of our lives in comparison to the timeline of the Earth. Regardless of wars, famine, trends and corporations that grow and fold, the forest continues. Trees outlive generations, rulers, presidents and prime ministers. The cycle of life is perfected through ancient processes; silently building a respite from the suffocating grey of modern life. Forests are reminders that the Earth survives in spite of our efforts to thwart it. We exist within their world, not vice versa. This is the story of one young tree’s growth and a celebration of nature that must be preserved at all costs.

At the start, there is nothing but crushing blackness and deafening silence. The first tremors of life begin, a silent miracle that stuns the seed into growth. Her roots snake into the depths of the Earth, twisting and turning, hungry to discover its cold, crumbling environment. Time passes by. Autumn freezes into winter, the forest floor iced into compact submission. The roots continue to climb down, carving a spider web underground. A solid foundation is formed, blissfully unaware of the seasons evolving above it.

And then, all at once, there is blinding light. The seedling bursts forth from the dirt, springing upwards from the inky blackness to discover the vast open sky above. Here, nurtured by sunlight and quenched by rainfall, the seed begins to acquaint herself with the forest she now calls home.

And what a fine forest it is. The floor is littered with a jigsaw of debris in various states of disarray. Sticks, twigs and fallen acorns produce a beautiful mosaic that crunch under the feet of the two legged giants who pass by. They relish in the sounds of bird song and drink in generous gulps of the oxygen rich air, their noses twitching at the scent of old pine and sap.

Beetles scuttle across the mosaic, expert navigators of the forest floor. Rabbits hop out of burrows, stirring up dust clouds in their wake. Squirrels loop around tree trunks, darting up and down the playground, their bushy tails flashing between branches. In tree tops that tower above the sprouted seed, birds call out to one another, piercing the perfect stillness of the forest.

With the coming of spring, the forest is galvanised with the promise of new life. Night turns to day and day turns to night, the sun sinking over the horizon before it rises once again. This happens more times than the little tree can count, before she is ready to stretch her limbs towards the nurturing sunlight. The beaming star radiates downwards, fuelling the division of cells that build the trunk of the little tree. She grows thicker and thicker.

During the height of a blissful summer, she’s forged her home with an iron grip in the ground and a great network of branches swaying above. She has come to expect the way the two legged creatures drink in the sight of her, their eyes scanning from trunk to crown as sunlight trickles through branches, bathing upturned faces in golden light.

The tree fell into a rhythm that followed the pulse of the Earth, no longer a stranger to the seamless way her appearance changed to follow the seasons, as predictable and intricate as clockwork. Delicate leaves, vibrant in their vivid green hues, shot out of bare branches to welcome the summer, before shriveling and floating to the ground. As the temperature plummeted and the forest became a sea of brown and burnt orange, seeds dropped into the dirt, burrowing into safety. Winter’s howling winds and icy air were no match for the solid trunk, her circular rings signalling maturity. Her spindly arms seemed devoid of life, as time slowed in the eerie silence of the shortest days. Animals hid in burrows, their fur wet with frosty dew. In this time, it seemed like sunlight would never return. Yet without fail, the tree was shocked into attention. Timid shoots burst from hardened branches, the days grew longer and the forest was filled with life again.

And this cycle shall continue, for years spanning beyond human life. Forests breathe oxygen into the atmosphere, asking nothing more than to be granted the opportunity to grow. Their invigorating beauty epitomises one of the most sacred connections that humans can make; a connection with nature.

Freelance journalist and mental health advocate

Freelance journalist and mental health advocate