Scorched Strength

The soft countryside lay sprawled all around, fading far into the distance as we drifted through. Gliding over roads cut through hills, with their wooden crowns and fields of flowers laced with wondrous creatures. Every colour beautiful and strong beneath the warm, late morning sun and its vast ocean of blue. Great gums line either side, flicking past our windows with thick greens sprouting, determined, wanting a life out from beneath scorched bark. Bare branches stretch overhead, darkened bark showing nothing more than death and pain to the untrained eye.

They stand rooted eternally to the earth, life fuelled by the ground beneath and the light above, leaves shimmering with the breeze.

To see these solemn structures of softened wood and fragile leaves, blackened by fires but still flourishing with life anew, amidst the season of birth with all others, is humbling. Made up of nothing more than masses of tiny cells. Cells riddled by millions of years of random mutations and nigh impossible occurrences that just happened to work well together, despite the many millions of other mutations that had caused death and sickness every other time. There just happened to be one change, within one tiny seed, creating the strength to withstand and use the extremes of its environment to its advantage. This new change thus survived, its host tree spreading its strength across the land and assisting future generations through the terrors they would have no choice but to experience.

These wonders are without measurable sentience or any signs of intelligence. They are formed and maintained by millions of tiny, separate cells, working together constantly and creating something greater than any individual part, the whole able to withstand one of the brutal attacks from its Earth. Its home.

Imagine standing within an assault of flames as they tear at your skin, burning through your nerves to your core. You’re surrounded, engulfed, nowhere to hide even if you could, nothing to protect your fragile form. Mostly you feel your fat and muscle melt away while the rest of you is left lying in a pile of ash and waste, waiting for the next skip of a breeze to scatter you across the darkened plains, eliminating your physical existence forever on. Your remains lay amongst the roots of these unintelligent, silent structures as they will stand dormant for the next few weeks, months, until the sun begins to dominate the biting cold and the flowers wake in bloom. It’s not until life begins to return to the dead valleys, do these wondrous trees show the world they have in fact remained through the worst and are stronger than ever. They emerge greater, amongst the rest, upon the other side of the harsh season.

An infinite amount of chance happenings could not have been consciously organised well enough to create such strength.

I feel both fragile and strong as I gaze through these branches, knowing that we may not be indestructible but we have the power to protect such wonders of the universe, even though they have managed better than most, on their own.

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