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The Devil in the Forest

A simple being caught in the artificial construct we call Life.

the-devil-in-the-forest

The Ugly Circle Amongst the Green

It was peaceful, up there in the wilds of Maine. No noise pollution of any kind: car, other people. That is, it was peaceful after my uncle's four-wheeler stopped moving- The jerk and bumpiness rattled my teeth as he and my father raced along an old logging trail. I was six, going on seven. At that age, the thrill of an ATV is all you need to keep your attention. Too young to understand the implication of that logging trail.

Up ahead, a break in the trees, spectators to our race down that dusty road. Unfortunate victims, the trees were, unable to turn away from the pollution we expelled into the air on our way by.

It was a quarry, an ugly lot, no trees except the ones lucky enough to experience another day, sitting on the outskirts. As I stood by my cousins, compacted ground beneath our feet while our parents raced, it was the first time I really noticed how barren it was. How destructive the humans had been.

The Devil

Clear cutting is as straight forward as the machines used to enact it. Putting that word into a sentence with trees as the noun, is even more blatant. It is the act of leveling pieces of a forest for commercialized use. What use is that? Whatever WE want. Housing, agriculture, oil, roads, simply because WE can.

Down the road from me, a section of forest was cleaned out two years ago. Then the devil left it. For two years, it recovered slowly. Secondary growth filling in the destruction. Then last summer, the devil came again. Everything for a second time, Gone. It was so heartbreaking, so sudden, so disgusting, and this time the devil had an audience. Sycophants stopped their cars to watch the raping of this spot, again. Clear-cutting is a devastating business.

The day after, the road became a beacon to meager salvation. Deer, chipmunks, squirrels, groundhogs, birds: they all fled what they had called home. They crossed the road, some not making it, as cars came along, unsuspecting. The rest escaped into the adjacent field and beyond. Eight months later, this spot is still scarred, not built on, barely cleared of the corpses of the many trees. There are a few left, with fragile and skinny trunks and brittle leaves. You'd think they were the lucky ones, but you'd think wrong.

Real-time photo of the devastation wreaked twice.

Real-time photo of the devastation wreaked twice.

Meeting HER

At the age of fifteen, I was caught between the middle of being a kid and an adult. Learning to think for myself, yet still deferring to what I thought was impeccable adult logic at times.

Having my own job for two years at that point, I had money to spare and what better than to buy books. My interests were at best odd for my age, what is now called the New Age subject. A collective way of thinking outside the box, and not conforming to society's expectations. My fascination with the subject went beyond mere literature.

On one summer day, I met a woman, *Alyssa, who changed the way I saw the world. She lived in a pocket, where you could kid yourself into believing you were far away from civilization, when really it was only up the road.

Quiet, peaceful, her estate she and her husband turned into a guide for lost souls, was mesmerizing.

Walking the trails behind her house, *Alyssa talked of energy and how it encapsulated every aspect of our lives. She spoke of the trees and how they knew we were there, ants compared to their stature.

We took a rest, my fellow campers taking the opportunity to collapse onto the nearest boulder. A child with ADD, I didn't need such a reprieve and stood next to *Alyssa. Together we surveyed our surroundings, the occasional woodland rodent peeking out or running by. It was there, *Alyssa told me the trees were family units. One big parent tree(s), surrounded by their offspring. Each family unit spoke to each other in a way we would never be able to comprehend. "The human's selfishness and closed-mind would always get in the way," *Alyssa said.

Looking back now, the closest beautiful example of what she told me so long ago, was ironically brought to the big screen in 2009, James Cameron's Avatar. The movie was more than just big explosions and tall, blue-skinned aliens. It was about the wonders of what was around us and how there were people who understood it and people who didn't/nor cared to. In the movie, a character speaks of an energy they discovered, in the roots of the trees on Pandora, a sentient energy, shared with all inhabitants of the alient planet. How funny, *Alyssa preaching the same philosophy six years previously.

Between *Alyssa and Cameron, it became clear when an act of devastation happens, the fauna that survives is lost in their new environment. Their kin gone. There is nothing to reach out to. Stumps lucky enough to not be ripped out of the earth will reach out to others, and those left will answer that stump's call, IF they are of the same species. The other trees will provide that stump with nutrients to live. Every species has differences, just like humans. It is not because the trees don't want to communicate with others, it's that biologically they cannot. Pheromones, and their energy are all unique: the Birch is different from the Pine, the Pine different from the Beech and so on.

Learning from *Alyssa opened my eyes and my mind, the older me disgusted and saddened every time a tree or trees are cut down.

It is hard to commit to weeding when I know now every weed I pull, the next victim knows something is coming for them and they can't do anything about it, a pheromone-laced warning, having been released two seconds before. It is especially difficult when the definition of a weed is simply any plant we deem unworthy. Who are we to destroy any living thing, simply because it's in our way. Our excuse is how dare it grow in between our manicured patio block, by our porch or in the middle of the yard.


the-devil-in-the-forest

If the Devil Wins

Without trees, the natural filter of our world, oxygen would be obsolete. Everything has a relationship, whether it is realized or not.

We excrete Carbon Dioxide and the plants supply us with life-sustaining air to breathe.

The winds would be tremendously strong and never ending, as trees are a natural barrier. There would be no reason for leaf peepers to flock to the north to see the autumn foliage. And if that seems a trivial matter, think economically for a moment, the fall tourism income would be lost to those states. Furthermore, in New England alone, tree species such as the Striped Maple and American Yew are a rare find, pushed to obscurity by the human hand. These two species are barely appreciated by the naked eye simply because there are so few.

Water is scarce where there are no trees, the water source dried up by the harmful UV light of the sun. We have already seen the devastating landslides in Europe on the news. Trees and their roots help keep the ground stable, if there is no trees there is no stability in the ground. On the flip side, flooding is just as horrific. No trees, no roots, no plants, where does that water go? The ground is no longer rich with nutrients, the dirt is compacted by human boots and heavy machinery. It has lost its ability to soak up any water.

  • A healthy tree alone, absorbs nearly twelve- thousand gallons of water a day. I learned that from *Alyssa.

If the trees were gone, there would be no water, no water no animal life as all living creatures need water to survive. Animals will die, their carcasses an oasis for disease that would impact humans .


Wisdom

What people don't understand is everything is linked. Today, people of all generations are glued to their devices: smartphones, smart-watches, tablets, video games. If they're not enamored with a device then they are on social media: for boredom, to educate, to be a troll or "keyboard warrior." This is the superficial construct humans have created for themselves. What really matters doesn't matter to the average person, because to them, it doesn't affect them. When YES, YES it does affect you and it'll affect the next generation and the one after that.

There are people out there who see as *Alyssa sees...

But out of nine others that day with *Alyssa, no one else heard her wisdom in the forest, just me. I am privileged to have met her.

As my fellow campers recovered and we continued our walk, I thought of Northern Maine, that quarry so long ago, and I looked around me.

How long did this forest have before the devil spread to it too?


*Names were changed for privacy purposes.

© 2022 Regin St Cyr

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