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.

A Hint of Regality

Isabella danced over to me from watching the TV as I held a play costume in my hand.
“Skirt on, please, Mum-mum,” she said. I bent to pull the billowing pink dress-up skirt over her feet and up to her waist. She was very co-operative; stepping into the middle of the skirt and holding very still as I lifted it, watching my actions with wonder.
“All done,” I said. I was curious to see how she would incorporate this first-ever costume into her play. She’d never played dress-up before.
“Thank you mum-mum!” She said politely and bounced away on tip-toes with a big smile. Suddenly she stopped and spun around, lifting her hands onto her head, “ballerina!” she exclaimed and she twirled in circles, laughing.
“Wonderful dancing!” I said, laughing with her.
She was always doing things just to make others smile.
She stopped twirling. “Dizzy!” She giggled, holding her arms out to the sides for balance.
And I surely couldn’t stop smiling.
“What are you doing Dad-o?” She questioned her dad who was bent over a cardboard box.
“I’m emptying this box, Darling,” he replied as he tipped the now-empty box on its side in the centre of the room.
She looked at her dad with pleading eyes, before taking another step and he knew she wanted his permission. “Go for it, Bub, it’s for you,” he said.

Back up on her tip-toes, she glided around her new toy and ran her hands over the box, marvelling at its unfamiliar texture. She ducked down and looked inside, giggling as our black cat popped out and walked off, “Corey!” she said. Everything was so exciting for her, she made everything exciting too. She could certainly find wonder in the smallest of things.
Suddenly, Dad-O picked her up and placed her down on top of the box. She sat very still, her pink skirt splayed around her. After a moment of thought, our little angel tucked her feet under the skirt, straightened her back and looked at us with a small smile.
“Queen Isabella!” She exclaimed, lifting her hand in a regal wave.
Dad-O and I bowed to our new queen.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said, lifting her chin and then returned her attention to her interrupted TV cartoon.

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