The Fallen


A large fallen tree rests in the cool waters of Rock Creek in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Before it fell, this tree started as a fertilized seed that was ejected from its protective cone by a single gentle puff of wind. It slowly spiraled towards the ground. Landing perfectly on the awaiting damp soil where it was warmed daily by the late morning and afternoon sun. Soon it germinated and took root just a few feet from the water's edge along Rock Creek. It spent the next 50 to 100 years (I'm guessing at the trees age based on the age formula found here) growing in both height and girth providing refuge for countless birds, squirrels and other critters that happened to wander by.

Late in its life the tree stood tall and proud and provided companionship and a usable shadow to any and all in need. It quietly groaned and creaked as it swayed in the afternoon breeze, never complaining. Then one frigid winter night an angry gust of wind toppled this noble sentinel. Crashing violently through the icy blanket that protected the sleepy creek coming to rest inches from the creeks eastern bank.

This tree once depended on the creek for water, nutrients and its cheerful songs. It now offers in return a small bit of protection and support of its own. When I first noticed this potential photograph I visualized a vertical monochrome image that told a simple story about the contrast of the forest along the creek. But, after exploring my surroundings through my viewfinder what I ended up going with is something very different. A horizontal color photograph that has a bit of an abstract feel with a touch of intimacy which brought the thoughts of my narrative to mind. I do not know when this tree fell but I am sure that when it did fall it made a sound. More likely a series of sounds beginning with the initial long creaking of the root system failing, then the muffled sucking sound of the slow upheaval of damp earth and snow breaking free and folding in the direction of the imminent fall. This was followed in quick succession by first a barely noticeable whoosh as the tree tips past the point of no return and gravity speeds it toward the forest floor. Immediately followed by a heartbreaking bass drum shuddering thud as the noble tree comes to rest while simultaneously the air is filled with the sharp snaps of countless breaking branches.

Then an eerie silence crawled in and curled up inside the newly formed frosty cavity which begins a new chapter in the story of this wonderful tree.

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