The gale had been raging for days, and the old oak was tired. For a hundred years it’d weathered storms easily, first as a sapling, then as a sturdy tree. But for longer than it could remember, there’d been no rain. The ground was hard pan and dust, with no water to draw up and few nutrients. The oak was impressive in its old age, but it was weak, feeling brittle and a little bitter. There was no longer a sense of renewal in the spring.
Great gusts pushed powerfully against its trunk. The oak resisted as it always had, but unrelenting battle had brought weariness to its soul. A shot of dread pierced the tree as it felt a loosening in the dead earth. The sound of screaming roots was lost in the wind’s howl of triumph. Massive branches cushioned the fall, but the trunk landed at a bad angle. It cracked and then broke, and with a last sigh the old tree settled onto the ground.
The small acorn had been very frightened during the storm. Too frightened to let go like its fellows and be swept into the black void. It had held tight to its twig as the tree crashed to the ground, but the impact was too much. The acorn’s grip was torn from the twig, and it too crashed down, between the branches to the sodden earth below.
The storm went away. From beyond the protecting arms of dying branches, the acorn felt the sun’s rays reach into its hiding place, bringing warmth and comfort. The shattered leaves had already begun to wither, dissolve, and seep their nutrients back into the earth.
Feeling fresh new life, the acorn wiggled its toe-roots luxuriously into the soft mud.
“Thanks, Pop,” it whispered.