In the hours of darkness I am alone, amidst my fragrant cedar curls in a hushed refuge one half my length in width, one and a quarter in length, one half tall. Grimy, salted, worn utensils scattered around me. In this silence my only companions are up in the deepest shadows, a few multi-legged confidants. I say confidants as they have told me the horrific saga of my brothers and sisters who called upon me to give myself for their needs. Their story I recognize.
As a sapling I remember a group of brothers and sisters gathered around my mother with an offering of tobacco and song before they took her. Naturally, as any child would, anger, grief found my heart. But my grandmother told me that these little people are our brother and sisters on this earth. Like the eagle in the sky, the worm in our roots, the bear claw upon our trunks, we are dependent upon one another and when they take us, it is to provide warmth, shelter, a way to ply the waters. A great privilege! Then, in the space left by the absence, nourishing light more easily finds us and our family expands, two or ten bloom in the place of one! For hundreds of season cycles this story kept my heart in wonder. Now and again they took a few of my family in the same manner and we rejoiced.
It stopped for a time and concern found our hearts for our little brothers and sisters.
Then, ravenous, violent things came with machines and butchered the earth. Offering us nothing but the cruel blade as scores at a time we were laid down and dragged off. In fear we waited for an unsettling fate, but they stopped a few lengths from me, leaving a clearing of an unnatural form.
Till that time only my highest leaves found light. Now my roots were warm, and dry as the rains could not be contained nor absorbed well before they rushed away. Taking much earth with it. Some, finding their roots exposed, lacked support to stand and fell long before they should have. Only grief, fury came to us. More cycles came and went and life returned to the clearing. Yet not in the numbers as before. The wind became our singular music as the eagles and movements of bears faded away.
Till half a cycle ago, a group of brothers came to me with an offering and song. Then as they plied their blades, pain, fear nor grief beheld me.
Now here I lay, being shaped into a craft to forever ply sacred waters with my brothers and sisters. How can I not but find gratitude in my heart.