The UN declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests “to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.”
Forests are vital to the lives and livelihoods of the people of this planet, to our planet’s existence. Yet, according to UN figures, deforestation continues at the rate of 50.000 square miles per year.
A number of activities have been planned for the year, including high-level panel discussions, film screenings, a United Nations commemorative stamp series, competitions, art and other public events. Look out for them here
While the launch of the Year of Forests will be taking place later, I am posting a short story grown out of the combination of the theme of the Year of Forests with that of “Silence,” a writing prompt set by participants of the “52/250 A Year of Flash.” It was first published there
I copy my short story below:
The Weeping of the Trees
Last spring, I hiked up Mount Olympus. The valleys surrounding its peaks are covered in black pine, beech, yew and tall conifers. On its slopes, vineyards spread precariously; olive trees anchor deep with their roots. Streams cascade to thirsty plateaus. No wonder the ancient Gods lived there.
I stayed in refuges, drank from the streams and breathed the pine-scented air. Cicadas serenaded me; butterflies I did not know existed covered my arms. Wolves lusted after me.
Magical. Yet, I dared not return, fearing the strange sightings and the silence: ghostly shadows appearing through the trees, gathering near water, rushing through the meadows, with a heavy, voluminous silence falling all round. At first, I did not believe my senses. Gradually, I came to expect and even look for the shadows.
Whenever I tried to touch a diaphanous apparition – as if made of smoke – it pulled back, avoiding my hand. I thought I saw it sigh, more as a gesture rather than sound, and glide away.
It was recently that I understood – and felt freed to return. The shadows are the souls of trees haunting the Olympian home of their Gods. Felled unjustly, burned in war, famine, and in ruthless profiteering, or carelessness, they return to plead with them.
Next time you visit Olympus, look for the shadows; seek this silence: If it is not disrupted by a leaf falling, a stream’s gurgle or an animal’s light footstep, know you are listening to the silent weeping of the trees.
You can find the story in 52/250, together with a number of other excellent stories on the theme of “Silence” here.