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I recently found this ode to my father that I wrote in 1991.

The day greeted him like a frosted charcoal painting. He moved his huge frame forward from the cabin door, pausing only to hear the black iron latch fall secure. The moist forest floor gave way easily under his boot and he made his way silently through the tall trees that secluded his home. He was aware of his hand gripping the axe as he cautiously eyes the nearby trees. His breath vapors rose in front of him — a grey cloud that matched the early morning sky.

He has come to find one tree: strong and tall, and yet willing to surrender its life so that he could live. Eying one, he moved closer, circling it, giving homage to its majesty. He touched it trying to feel its life force and asking it to forgive him his brutality. Were it not for his own need to survive, he would never scare its grandfatherly frame.

Slowly unbuttoning his jacket, he gazed with admiration at the colors coming to light around him. The browns and reds of autumn were perfectly offset by the deep green of the pine needles. Heaving a sigh, he gave a prayer of thanks in his heart and threw the first blow at the tree’s trunk. Again and again he swung until his whole body was in rhythm and the axe was an extension of him.

The sun rose higher, bringing a crystal blue backdrop to the tree boughs rusting gently in the wind. Beads of sweat dotted his hair and beard, looking like raindrops glistening on amber wheat. The flush in his face made his already tanned skin even darker.

Slowly the tree began to sway from its base. He gave a hard push and moved away from the falling greatness as it crashed to the ground. Smiling, he acknowledged to himself that indeed, if there were a man to hear it, a tree falling in the forest does make noise.

The sun streamed directly upon him through the pines as he sat upon his giant friend to have lunch. Many hours had he known it and many days would he have to learn its inner secrets as he chopped its greatness to fit his fireplace. He felt a deep satisfaction knowing that all thought the long, cold, and sometimes stormy winter, there would be the security of warmth given to him by this most noble forest dweller.

One man, one tree; sharing one life. For in giving up its own life, the tree had become part of the man.