I’m relaunching The Weekly Fix, with a twist. For now, instead of a serial tale or a short story, I’m sharing excerpts from the stories in the forthcoming Fix the World anthology. This is a fantastic collection of twelve hopeful stories from sci-fi writers on how to fix some of the greatest problems we face as a world.
A Forest for the trees
Rachel Hope Crossman
Once, people used to hug trees. But that That was before we started randomly falling over and killing them. All of a sudden, the Family Tree was accused of being homicidal maniacs, perpetrators of assault and battery and the sooner all of us trees were cut down the better, said the Humans. They didn’t care whether it was Elms, Redwoods, or Christmas trees falling. The carnage had to stop and that meant we had to go. So, they put a bounty on our heads and the good people of every community fired up their chainsaws for the public good. We had no way to run, no place to hide, and no idea how quickly life on Earth was about to change.
At least that’s what everyone said.
I think they should have known better; the signs were there. Centuries of war and human dominion over the planet had taken such a toll that even a city tree like me, growing in a foggy backyard, could feel the effects. Could look back just a very few years and know that something was amiss. Could realize that when the time came, when the world as I knew it transformed into chaos, it was going to take radical action to survive. So, when nature let the dogs out and human infrastructure began to disintegrate, I just pulled up my roots and ran.
Don’t ask me how. All I know is that it was either a miracle or some property of the fact that the all laws of the universe seemed to be in flux. But I wasn’t the only one running; Yoshiko, a Yew Tree from Petaluma, could run too. She’d been growing on the grounds of a grocery store parking lot, and when that last storm hit, she took off on both of those contorted little trunks of hers and zoomed out the driveway like so many of the drivers she’d watched over the years.
She was moving so fast she ran right into me. Neither of us understood what had happened but when she slammed into my trunk it was love at first sight. Together, we pressed on.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, though. I was telling you youngsters about the catastrophic changes on Earth in the Year of Mud and how I helped to found this Grove.”
Rumbling from deep inside his massive trunk like the sound of distant thunder, the voice of the Redwood continued, and rows of little saplings shook their leaves and shivered their twigs.
“Climate change had already forced adaptations from every living thing by then. The heat was awful and the flooding had been worse but when the bond between Human and Tree was broken, something very precious was lost. Do you understand, children?”
The young trees did not understand about floods or chain-saws or maniacs. How could they? They knew only life under the soaring roof of their arboretum, beneath the filtered light and measured drip. Here, the bond between Human and Tree was as sweet and simple as the love between mother and child. As solid as the ground beneath their feet.
“Between my backyard and Humboldt State Park, Yoshiko and I met almost two dozen other trees on the move. There was an apple tree, complete with pink blossoms and a nest of finches. A palm, a eucalyptus, an ash with a murder of roosting crows.
I have said that the Human-Tree bond was broken. Splintered is more accurate, because the bond wasn’t completely severed. Volunteers from the Svalbard Seed Bank–the kind of Human who still hugged trees–cared for us when we arrived at the state park, in varying states of shock and dehydration. They took grafts from all of us who made it to the park, as well as from the pedigreed Redwoods they had come to sample in the first place. We were a bunch of mutts, a group of random city trees burned by sun and salt, in need of emergency TLC. The arborists from Svalbard saved our lives. You, children, all come from either the Humboldt stock or us City Sliders as we came to be known. If not for the loving care of those Humans, none of us would be here today. ”
The young saplings whispered and murmured, nudging each other with their twiggy elbows. Their fluttery voices mingled with the kit-kit-kits of the sparrows and nuthatches that fluttered amongst their branches.
The redwood continued.
“If you’d asked me ten years ago to believe all that’s happened since, I would have said you were nuts. Would have told you that trees don’t walk, can’t talk, and could never have made it this far. Yet here we are.”