The Beauty of Nature
The sunset was not spectacular that day. The vivid ruby and tangerine streaks that so often caressed the blue brow of the sky were sleeping, hidden behind the heavy mists. There are some days when the sunlight seems to dance, to weave and frolic with tongues of fire between the blades of grass. Not on that day. That evening, the yellow light was sickly. It diffused softly through the gray curtains with a shrouded light that just failed to illuminate. High up in the treetops, the leaves swayed, but on the ground, the grass was silent, limp and unmoving. The sun set and the earth waited.
On the edge of a small wood, an ancient tree sat hunched over, the gnarled, old king of a once vast domain that had long ago been turned to pasture. The great, gray knees gripped the hard earth with a solidity of purpose that made it difficult to determine just where the tree began and the soil ended, so strong was the union of the ancient bark and grainy sustenance. Many years had those roots known—years when the dry sands had shriveled the outer branches under a parched sun, years when the waters had risen up, drowning those same sands in the tears of unceasing time.
Many sands had the tree known; many green neighbors had come and gone, yet the tree remained. The mighty roots had endured such whips and scorns as had been cast upon it, but the old tree had survived, a pillar of twisted iron and horn against the now sickly sky. In the waning light of evening, the tree waited.
In the deep crevices between the tufts of grass, the shadows stalked slowly upward, submerging the sandy earth in an inky sea. The sun sank until only its last, thin razor of light glimmered over the fields. Time stretched its ancient joints, and lazily, yet inexorably, ground onward. The dusk hung in an eternal, yet horribly finite stillness. The bees still buzzed and hummed among the flowers; the deer still grazed softly among the undulating waves of grass, yet in that moment, their movement seemed arrested, held in check by the waning sun.
And the winds came.
The wild west wind came down through the fields, rousing the deer from their reverie, and swaying the bee-studded flowers. From its highest bough to the loose sand on its mighty roots, the ancient tree quivered lightly, yet was untroubled by the breeze. Many a storm had passed over the tree, yet no rain had managed to drown those fathomless roots, no hail had managed to bite the iron bark.
As the stars hang, unchanging in the nighttime sky, and as the sun moves in ceaseless circles around the earth, so the tree had endured. And even as the wind rustled in its outermost boughs, the tree looked out to the sun, as if for reassurance about its own unchanging eternity. On the horizon, no yellow eye looked back. The sun was gone.
In a tumult of wind and rain, a hail of twigs and leaves thundered through the trees and tore the arching grasses out by the roots. The deer bolted and hid,...