A seed falls. It strikes the ground and is buried by leaves and dust and is forgotten as a flamboyant fall fades into dreary winter blue. Cold December gloom and January’s bitter cold and snowy drifts further erase the memory of the fallen seed from the living world above. March roars in and out and April’s melting ice flood the seed with cold water, gently calling to it, “Awaken Little Seed. Spring is here. It is time for you to rise.”
As May’s warming days grow longer, the little seed begins to stir, and it soon pokes its head out from under winter’s musty cover to open its eyes for the first time. The sun is bright and oh so warm, and the seed, excited by the sight of the big, wide world and warm, bright sun, stretches and reaches hard for the vast, blue sky.
As the seed grows tall in the cozy, early summer sun, it spreads its strong, searching roots through the warm, moist soil and realizes that it is more than a seed. It is a seedling!
Furiously, it grows until the warm rains of early summer come no more. During the dog days of July and August, the young seedling digs its roots ever deeper, searching for cooler, moister footing on which to stand. It looks anxiously toward the sky for one of those promising, plump clouds and a merciful drop of rain or a comforting cover of shade… to no avail. It drops its head and weeps without a tear, for there are none to bear.
It wonders what happened to the lush, happy days of spring when all was new, green, and wonderful. The little seedling drifts off into a hot, uncomfortable sleep and slowly begins to shed the cover of its own leaves until the rains come again, marking the anniversary of its fall from that from which it came. Briefly, it awakens and stretches its branches for the early autumn sun until cold, crisp nights and harvest moons cause the little seedling to grow drowsy once again, and as old Mr. Frost spreads a cover of its dying leaves over its fattening roots, the little seedling nods off into a deep winter’s sleep.
The snows are deep and the ice is thick and the winds are unmercifully cruel, but our little one’s strong and its sleep - deep and long - and thus it survives it first winter outside the husky walls of the seed which had lain just here a year ago. A warm feeling comes over our little seedling, and suddenly it finds itself looking once again through young, excited eyes at the brilliance of a spring morning.
The seedling hurriedly grows into unknown spaces and climbs to unrivaled heights and thrusts it roots into ever more remote and deeper reaches of soil before the hot, dry days of the dog halt its ecstatic growth and force it to bow its head with the respect that these days command, and as it does, it realizes that it is much more than a seedling - it is a strong, wiry sapling!
The stifling dog days come and the wiry sapling bows before them with the due reverence they deserve as it had done the year before. The overdue rains come once again with the autumn winds, and the wiry sapling makes a last chance sprint toward the sun before old man winter closes the course for the season. The sapling anticipates drowsy late autumn evenings, frigid mid winter nights, and rejuvenating early spring mornings, and as it does, it slips into a restful state of unconsciousness and covers once again its fattening roots with its dying leaves. It awakens one fine spring morning to find that it had all come to pass. Then, one early summer day several years later, after it had completed the first stretch of its annual race to the sun, our little sapling realizes that it is much more than a sapling - it is a tree!
As this realization takes hold, the tree gains pride and confidence and becomes eager to grow more, reach further, and climb higher. It wants to thrust its roots into tinier crevices, to dig them into dark earth, and to weave them into ever more distant regions of sod and soil - the further from the point where that little seed had fallen so many years ago the better. Though stifling heat of late summer still comes, the sturdy, proud tree now simply waits with calm anticipation - never bowing - completely irreverent to the threats of the dog days that had once caused a little seedling to weep. Though the drowsy days of late autumn still come, the tall, proud tree now simply slips into a lovely robe of red and gold and then retires as if to say, “I’ve earned a rest, and I’m taking it… now.”
Though the bitter north winds of winter still blow and the ice grows thick as does the snow, the strong, proud tree now simply stands and bears all that old man winter cares to dare! And as the warmth of a new spring comes, as it has now done a hundred times before, the tall, proud tree peeks out and above all else through the brilliance of a morning more spectacular than ever before, and as it does, it realizes that it is more than a tree - it is a mighty oak!
As the dog days of summer come, the mighty oak smugly laughs with contempt at the threats of August; as the drowsy days of autumn come, the mighty oak dismissively sports its majestic fall robe of red and gold; and as the bitter winds and icy gales of winter come, the mighty oak sleeps deeply and contentedly and dreams of earlier days when life was new, exciting, and unexpectedly surprising. After another hundred such years, the mighty oak realizes that it is still… just a mighty oak, and it wonders why that is so - why it has not grown into something more - something mightier - mightier than a migghty oak.
Dog days come, and autumn too, followed by dreary winter blue, and as the mighty oak sleeps, it dreams. It dreams of days of old and of days yet to come, and these are troublesome dreams, causing uneasy sleep. As soon as the roaming fingers of spring pry open the eyes of the mighty oak, it begins to worry. It worries about what is to become it, why it is not growing into something more, and, indeed, why it is at all.
Then, one lazy, late autumn day later on that year, the mighty oak notices an acorn falling from one of its branches and bounding off the ground to come to rest at the edge of its massive canopy in some soft soil next to a rock. The mighty oak then begins to wonder why that acorn had fallen there, why it has acorns at all, and, indeed, why it exists at all. The rains come, the mighty oak grows drowsy, it sheds its majestic fall robe, and once again retires. Old man winter covers all with a blanket of snow.
The next spring, the mighty oak awakens to find the sprout of a seedling growing just there next to the rock where the acorn had fallen and come to rest the previous autumn. As it does so, the mighty oak comes to realize that the acorn is just a seed… and that it… is just a seed factory. It stretches and reaches hard for the sun.
August 4, 1989