Contemporary Creative Nonfiction Speculative

“You had a Grandfather many millennium ago who lived amidst this grandeur, until they cut him down. I don’t mean to disturb your sensibilities, but sometimes  the truth is the only way to see the significance of the life we have inherited.”

He often began his stories that way. He did not know any of my ancestors, nor could he have. His name is Ralph, he’s an Aspen, I’m a Redwood. We both have scientific designations, but I’m not interested in the mechanics of identification. I know who I am, and that’s enough. He gets his insight from the cloud, and makes the mistake so many do, believing everything on it is factual.

We are both trees of different species, but for some reason we are compatible, and his gullibility, well, is entertaining.  I find him humorous, and he finds me…well I don’t really know, but he won’t leave, and I can’t, so we tolerate one another. That’s my attempt at being humorous. He laughs when I use the obvious to promote the understood, if that makes any sense.

Oh, my name is Breeze. Another example I’m afraid, of forest humor. I’m young by family standards, three-hundred, and sixty-five years old. They call me baby still. By “they,” I mean all of my relatives. We all live here pretending to be one big happy family. Some have descended from the ancient relative they refer to as Grandfather. I call him Stump, no disrespect intended.  A reminder of his existence remains some four score and ten hundred years in my present.

I use the term years, only because I wish to be understood. We have no real definition of time, as it is irrelevant. By that I mean…think of a forest floor.  A million seasons of falling leaves, needles, branches, and what it has become: soil. Everything mixed together, not one element taking credit for creation, but understanding the contribution each has made. The reference to time, when no one can remember a beginning or an end, what would be the point. We just are.

Ralph, I feel sorry for him. He’s only ten, but although he’s exceptionally mature for his age, has nearly lived half of his life’s expectancy, assuming nothing unforeseen happens. That is one thing we all think about here from season to season. We are all cognizant of the fact that dangers lurk everywhere. Snow, wind, lightning, floods, you name it, it becomes a possibility for us becoming part of the earth from which we sprang.

I don’t mean to be morbid, but life here is a daily reminder that what can happen, will happen. Oh I forgot the most likely preeminent danger, fire. It has become a greater concern over the past hundred seasons or so as the rains and snow have lessened, and the temperatures have increased.

Fire is less of a danger to my longevity than to some of my distant neighbors. My bark has evolved over time to tolerate some of the intensity of fire. Over the seasons, the majority of fires have been the result of natural occurrences, lighting primarily. In more recent eras, human activity has become the more likely culprit.

We have been suffering from the infestation of human activity for many seasons now. Grandfather, who I have to admit I never met, or could even be certain of being an actual successor of his, has left a record of our past and the past history of the world we live in, through a series of stories relayed to each succeeding generation by the previous one. 

If asked to explain it, I would suggest it is a form of nervous telepathy. We have the ability to absorb concepts as readily as humans absorb suggestions, unfounded or not. Some refer to it as a gift from the Great One. None of us knows who the Great One could have been, or possibly still is, but it is believed he created all things big and small. Nice to think about sometimes on stormy days when the only promise is that of freezing rain, and uncomfortable wind chills.

I mentioned Ralph earlier. He complains a lot, mostly about me blocking his sun, but then he’s forever dropping leaves around me. I know it is part of the natural process, but I’ve always been a prude when it comes to esthetics. I believe things are designed to look their best at all times. I know it’s not his fault. I just like to kid him about it, because pretty soon he’ll go into hibernation and I won’t see him again until the sun comes over the mountain and the birds return.

I asked him what he does when he’s hibernating. I find the concept intriguing. He says he thinks, or rather dreams. He says he doesn’t remember thinking, so he must be dreaming. He says he’s one of the lucky ones; “I can remember my dreams.”

He likes to make fun of Old Mark over there because he can’t remember anything. Mark apparently just blacks out for the season and wakes up when he can feel his roots again. Mark is a strange guy, not as original looking as Ralph either.

Some seasons back, several hundred or more ago, after I sprouted, but before I began to pay attention, things changed dramatically. Humans showed up. They began to take what did not belong to them, and if that wasn’t bad enough, did so with an insolent attitude. They didn’t appear to care about the propriety of how they acted, or what they did. 

Many of the stories I have inherited from those times are of blatant destruction. People taking and taking and giving nothing back. Many of the mountains were damaged by those looting the ground for minerals that could be traded for implements of destruction, machines, which were used to further decimate the mountain.

The scars I have been told can be seen in our present season. Many of my relatives lives were lost in that season of exploitation with no regard of the future. Waters were contaminated, air quality diminished, and worst of all, the uncalculated indifference to esthetic supposition.

No thought was given to a future. Relatives were stolen for selfish purposes, and were not replaced. The process of extracting minerals left the waters unusable. The skies became darker than the days after the mountain exploded in a fiery rain.

Ralph complains my telepathy makes him sad, but then he says he’d rather be sad than have nothing to remember. I keep forgetting he’s going to a blank space, where apparently there is no one to exchange telepathy with.

Seasons are, according to lore, the result of the earth’s relationship to the sun. It is obvious that the sun comes and goes, but why and how is still a mystery to me. All I know is that I feel its warmth and know it is the beginning of a new season or the end of one. That and the fact Ralph pesters me, wanting to know about everything that happened while he was gone. He treats me like a documentarian. When I object, he responds by pointing to the fact that I am a recorder of history and have rings to prove it. How can I argue with that. He has a history in theoretical comedy he informs me.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not all blackberries and huckleberries up here. We have our problems. We argue, which usually results in more confusion than constructive results. We hear, but don’t listen. We even sing out of tune, depending upon the temperature. Something to do with barometric pressure and the season of the year. We even have scandals.

Last season some humans came up here. They stumbled around for a few days. Put up these artificial shelters, and then against all reason, they started a fire. We didn’t know what to do, so at first, we did nothing. Then it occurred to us they were jeopardizing our existence, our home. They were acting as if it were two hundred seasons ago. They didn’t seem to care.

There was little we could do. It was Ralph who came up with the idea that we should use our telepathic powers to contact our friends in the sky. Horatio is a particular favorite of mine. He can become anything you wish him to be. Once, when I wished for an upside-down duck, he appeared looking like an upside-down duck. 

Ralph was right. We contacted Horatio, who along with some of his fringe buddies decided they would help, but just this once. They gathered the darkest of spirits I had ever experienced. The sky grew as black as night, the winds challenged the strongest of us to remain steadfast, and then the rain came. Not just water from the sky, but buckets of it, as hard as rocks. 

Screams could be heard throughout the canyon. The shelters were tossed into the trees, the ground became as slick as ice, and the thunder was so powerful I could feel my roots tingle. Needless to say our uninvited guests departed in a hurry. “The power of persuasion can be more persuasive than the message itself,” Ralph.

The event has turned into one of those mystical reverberations providing a lesson for those not immune to redefining possibility. Ralph got such a kick out of the guy that watched his tent begin to leave and actually thought if he sat on it, he could prevent it from becoming air borne.

Ralph does a reenactment of the episode, including the man pulling himself from the mud and starring in disbelief at his tent becoming a tree ornament. He has performed his pantomime routine for the last several seasons at our biannual Seasonal Celebration, we refer to, as Solitude. We enjoy the one during the shortest season of the year, mainly because it more closely resembles the meaning of Solitude. But often we just revert to the past for solace.

We dislike noise. No one I know, is openly hostile to the intrusion, but then there’s not much we can do except ignore it. Those things in the sky are the worst. Not only their persistent screams but their breath. I shouldn’t have thought of it, it only annoys me and makes my bark ache.

A few of my associates display a squeaky attitude, mostly when the wind is overly aggressive. We understand, but don’t condone the noise, it is disconcerting.

I guess if I had to refer to a period I enjoyed most, it would be the middle of the dark. Something about the quiet. Just the stars and the silence. There are interruptions, but they are acceptable and even enjoyable at times. The owls hoot and coyote’s howl, and although they send shivers up my bark, they bring a sense of nostalgia for a time before machines took to the sky.

You’ll have to excuse me. I’m getting a message from Lucile. I don’t usually tune in to her telepathy, she has a tendency to be overly emotional about things that can’t be helped. At least in my opinion.


The Cloud I refer to, is only a reference to a collective thought pattern that is shared amongst those who recognize its significance, and take part in its possibility. That may sound nebulous, and it is meant to be, as explaining what our Cloud is, would be more difficult than explaining what air looks like or how the sun dissipates the fog that comes and goes as it pleases.

Our cloud is an expression of what you would refer to as thought, recollection, remembrance, but it is none of those things. It is an emotional plain that exists, but only for those that believe it exists and participate in its existence.

Our cloud is a way to communicate our mystical interpretation of events and all living things. We experience the emotion of a sun rise, not the suns appearance, that is a physical manifestation. We accept the message a warm breeze conveys, or the anger generated between humidity and temperature that manifests itself in the sounds that reverberate to the ground where they are not only felt but understood.

Verbal communication that animals exhibit, whether it be in the form of a developed language, or simply a sound that transmits a message we are incapable of understanding, is no different than the exchange of knowledge by thought. We have therefore developed a means to exchange emotional essence for lack of better words which enables us to understand circumstances of other life forms without them directly communicating to us individually. 

Communication takes place on what I have named a Cloud, which is a euphemism for spiritual plain that exists around every living entity in the universe. Inanimate objects, rocks, meteors, stars, do not have a spiritual plain, but those that accompany them do. The light is a form of energy created by friction and heat which emanates a spirit that can be interpreted by other life forms therefore having some insight into the essence of the object even though it does not possess life itself.

There are also those who have sheltered life. Once they no longer live in a physical nature, they have a spirit that has grown from their past that remains. It is that spirit that houses and protects a past based on experience and knowledge.

When I communicate it is not with an individual entity but with the spiritual plain as a whole. Those who participate have the ability to review my projections and interpret them in their own way. I do not have the ability to dispel interpretation of another. All interpretation is considered personal as every life form has its own experiences that are relevant to that individual. It may not be an interpretation accepted by a similar group of individual, families, as each individual has the power to interpret messages on the Cloud only for themselves. 

I am able to communicate with Ralph because he accepts my contributions to the spiritual plain and interprets them in a way that only he is capable of doing. I have no influence over his interpretation or ability to do so. My contribution is mine alone, as his interpretation of my contribution is his alone. Other Aspens may have a similar interpretation, or theirs might vary drastically because it is a reflection of ones experience in interpreting information.

I look at areas of the Cloud I am familiar with. I know that is where postings relevant to me or from those I am most closely associated with, occur. But I am also able to investigate areas I am not familiar with. My interpretation of events may not be what the one posting a message intended, but that is how the transfer of information works. When you place an idea or emotional response you cannot control the interpretation of the one receiving the information. It is however a responsibility therefore to be as accurate and precise as possible so as not to purposely distort information.

I don’t know if that clarifies your perception of how we communicate, but it makes me feel significantly more responsible when relaying personal data and recognizing that it may be interpreted in a way not intended. Information, no matter the form, is powerful because it stimulates or immobilizes action, which may result in a person, family, or species being unable to accept their role in a universe too complicated to be understood in its totality, so must be interpreted individually as it relates to circumstances in one’s existence.


Lucile again. She wants us to consider the fact that there are those who are placing things on the cloud that are intended to extract a specific response by presenting nonfactual information. Ralph says we should ignore her. “No one would intentionally deceive someone for personal gain, I don’t think!”    

April 26, 2022 15:47

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.