June 21, 2024

By Owen Z.

Cedric stared out of the window as his teacher droned on and on about orders of operations. “The correct order is PEMDAS, or parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction. Now, could anyone tell me how…”  He sighed and turned his eyes back towards the yard. Bored out of his mind, he thought about how much he couldn’t wait to leave school to continue exploring the woods behind his house.

Once school had ended, Cedric rushed home, dropped his backpack off, yelled to his mom where he was going, and plunged into the woods. He breathed in the woody, piney scent of the forest as his feet automatically found the path that he wanted to travel. He pushed aside a fern that was hiding his secret spot, and sighed in relief as he found it just the way he had left it. His little secret spot was a small pond nestled between a ring of tall sequoia trees. He had found  this place when he had run into the woods, looking for a place to hide from the school bully, but instead he had found this place. And he was glad he was. It was one of the only places left in this forest that had not been disturbed by humans. Cedric had spent long hours relaxing in the cool shade of the clearing, breathing in the piney, woody scent of the trees and feeling the cool water of the lake on his skin.

As the sun began to set, he returned home, did his homework, and went to bed. The next day, it was more of the same. After school ended, he ran straight home, dropped off his backpack, and ran to his secret spot. However, today was different. Cedric felt it in his head and ears. A deep rumbling that could only be…No. He refused to think that his hiding spot had been discovered by others who would not give it the same respect as he did. As he burst into the clearing, his worst fears were confirmed. 

As he hid behind a bush, crouching in the dirt, he saw a group of men hacking at the sequoia trees with axes, flattening the land with bulldozers that billowed sooty black smoke, polluting the air and water, which was now full of dead fish. Anger rose up in Cedric, tinting his vision red. He couldn’t believe that humans would bulldoze such a beautiful place without a second thought. Cedric didn’t know how long he stayed there, but what he did know was that he would never forget what happened. 

***

Eighty years after that day, Cedric finally returned to the spot where it had happened. He walked into a clearing that looked just as it had the day he had found it. Nature had even reclaimed the spot where the silver mine had been, new trees and plants growing in place of the old ones, filling the air with the sounds of nature. After the mine had shut down around fifty years ago, Cedric had returned and planted the seeds of the first few trees, and then he left and let nature take its course. And now, thanks to his help, the whole of nature smiled upon him.