Season of Growth

“Some of the townsfolk have been whispering about seeing things in the woods, do you know anything about this?” asks the constable. He pours water from the earthen pitcher into a worn mug. Looks his guest in the eyes, gives the pitcher a little shake.

The woodsman nods, “Thank you,” scoots his cup to the table’s center. “It’s hard to describe, but I’ll try.”

The constable fills the woodsman’s cup, “Take your time.”

The woodsman grunts, “Time…I’m not sure we have much.”

“Go on.” The constable sips his water. “What’d you see?”

“I’ve been chopping trees and clearing the paths for years, ever since I was old enough to swing an axe, my pops was taking me with him. Every day I go and fell a tree or work on splitting one from a previous day.” The woodsman runs a hand over the bottom half of his face, sighs. “It’s hard to say for sure when I started noticing it.”

The constable’s eyes narrow. “It?”

“Mm, this—Serra bless me—is going to sound crazy, but I think the forest knows what I do. I think it always has, but it’s different now.”

“What do you mean? More water?”

“Have anything stronger?” asks the woodsman.

“I do, yes. What do you mean about it being different now?” the constable gets up and opens a cupboard, pulls a bottle out. The cork comes out with a squeak and a pop.

“When I think back to when I was a boy, I recall this feeling of the woods knowing my father and I were there. Watching us…Watching over us. I don’t think it’s happy we’re cutting its trees to burn, but I always got this feeling that they understood.” The constable pours two fingers of the brown into the woodsman’s mug, the woodsman nods in thanks. “Not happy about it, but knew we needed the wood to survive. Like we’d come to some unspoken agreement. Allow us to take a tree to fuel our fires and in return we won’t be greedy and take too much.”

“It’s not the same?” asks constable and takes his seat. “When did it change?”

“I’m not sure, but I think it was sometime after that young lord built his summer estate on the other side of the river.”

“And this feeling you get—what is it now?”

The woodsman shakes his head. “The forest isn’t happy. And to be honest I can’t blame it. The lord’s men are cutting down a half dozen trees every couple of days and burning them for no better reason than to have bonfire parties.”

“Mm,” constable nods, “yes, those are hard to miss. The air constantly smells of smoke now.”

“I think the forest is going to do something soon.”

“Do? Do what? How?”

“Like I said, it’s hard to describe, but I would swear I’ve seen people in the trees.”

“People? You mean the lord’s men?”

“No, no,” the woodsman shakes his head. “No. I mean the trees are the people.”

“How does…I don’t…” the constable, scratches his head, sips his drink. “What?”

“I think the forest is coming alive in a way we never thought possible.”

“Why?”

The woodsman sighs. “I think we’ll find out sooner than we’d like.”