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7 Making Visible

March 20, 2011

Relationship to this instance in time by way of:

the Tree, Air, the Rock, the Root, an Ant, Leaves, the Sun, Wind, Water, Time, Humans, Mushrooms, the Red Locust, Cynthia Larson Bennett, Milk Duds, Cherubim, Guy de Maupassant


The tree forces its way into the air’s space, gradually, hoping the air won’t notice.  The more the sun beats down on the tree and water siphons through its roots up into the trunk, the more the air is displaced.


The air must find a new space to occupy…perhaps lungs, which interestingly seems to work because when the lunged-creatures exhale, they’re feeding the tree.  It’s alright though; the tree repays them with fresh oxygen. 


The rock is tired.  Through will and insistence, toil and bruising it’s supported this tree.  What a good friend!  Imagine that companionship.  Or is it vanity?  To stand strong against wind, water, and warmth for its crown the tree is a mighty feat.  While parts of the rock have given way, the base stays strong for the tree’s victory stance.


The root.  The trees lifeline.  This thin fiber reaches far bringing the tree life.  The top of the rock has long since lost all nutrients that the tree would require.   The rock has eroded.  This single root brings the tree’s lifeblood from the rest of the world.  The tree can only watch from a distance, waiting hopefully for something helpful from the root.  The root searches, ever strengthening, successfully bringing back water and soily benefits.


The ant has noticed the root bridge, and frequents it while searching for food.  It doesn’t know that it’s traversed it twice already searching.  Sadly, when the winds off Lake Superior accelerate, the ant finds its untimely end 100 feet below in the rocks.


During the leaves’ short lives, they force their way out of the twigs and branches disrupting the air.  They collect all the energy from the sun that they can.  Meanwhile, they will flail about and have spasm after spasm in response to the wind’s torment.  This wild ride sends some of them hurtling through the air, to the ground, or into the water where they will die, turn brown, and eventually become nutrients for future trees.


The sun could not care less about this specific tree.  The tree is a single insignificant entity living in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  The sun barely cares about earth.  If something were to happen to earth, it would be alright because there are other planets in its solar system.  Maybe it will ditch these planets and go find some others.  Possibly later, right now it’s going to heat the planets some more.


The cold air is rushing in to fill the gap left by the warm air that has risen.  The wind is worming its way through all the nooks of what’s left of rock under the tree, chipping away bits of it with each gust.  It’s been successful with all the land under the root.  Perhaps a few more attempts will finish the job.


The water and wind have combined forces to successfully erode much of the land under the tree.  They’re doing their best and with more time, the land and tree will completely fall.  The rain water is snatched from the earth by the root ends, sent across the root bridge, and filtered up into the tree as nourishment.


It’s not bored.  It knows patience by this time.  This tree is nothing.  The sun is nothing.  When this species of tree goes extinct, when earth can no longer support life, when the sun burns out, when there’s no such thing as memory, time will not care.  When the plastic of this computer has decomposed and the energy holding these words on the page no longer exists, time will still exist.  Because the Law of Conservation of Energy is after all a human-made law.  Time does not care about laws made by humans.  Time is an invention of humans.  Time is above that.


The human above all else want to be important.  To time they are not.  To the sun they are not.  To the tree, the rock, and the wind they are not.  But humans are unique, and they do have value or they would not be.  Humans stop at this tree on their hikes and travels and marvel at its beauty and wonder as it clings to life via the root.  They wonder if they too aren’t putting on a façade of grandeur but really are only holding on by a thread.  They wonder what will be their tipping point before they go over the edge.  They wonder how this plays into their importance.  They wonder how to proceed and for how long they can proceed.


The mushrooms that live in the forest near the tree sometimes send their spores to the rock island.  They do not find anything to take hold of.  Only the tree can survive with its outstretched root.

Red Locust

The Red Locust is unaware of this specific tree.  It will never see this tree, but if it did survive the trip and the climate change, it would not know it as ‘tree’.  It would know it as the idea of food.

Cynthia Larson Bennett

Cynthia Larson is a fifteen year old taking an advanced writing class at Forsythe Middle School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Years from now, she will author a children’s book about a young girl trapped on an island with a single tree who is forced to eat Red Locusts and mushrooms.  The story will be inspired by a location she will see while on a backpacking trip with her husband on their first anniversary through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. 

Milk Dud

The Milk Dud comes to life at a Milk Dud factory.  Its relationship to the tree is a unique one.  On May 14, 1948, two weekend lovers were camping a few miles off the road on Lake Superior’s coast.  Among their camp foods were frankfurters, peanuts, baked beans, dried fruit, and Milk Duds.  Unfortunately after an early dinner under a young tree, the couple noticed a squirrel scurrying by.  With the couple’s peanut supply exhausted, the couple began offering Milk Duds to the squirrel.  The squirrel acquiesced, preferring the nuts.  Tragically, on the third Milk Dud, giving in to all the years of erosion, the ground gave way under the squirrel sending it to its demise and trapping the couple on the island under the tree. 


The Cherubim took the Milk Dud couple to heaven in 1948 after the man and woman attempted unsuccessfully to climb down the sides of the cliff.  The Cherubim went to work again in June of 2006 when a woman named Juanita Richardson was pushed off the cliff by her husband.  The Cherubim wait eagerly for other hikers and campers.

Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant never made it to Michigan.  But in his later years while penning Notre Cœur he dreamt of a place so elusively quiet as this rock and this tree.  He eventually went mad, and the same Cherubim took him to heaven in 1893.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2011 3:46 pm

    I really like the way you framed this assignment–it reminds me of a short film called Das Rad (The Rocks), have you seen it? If you have the time to watch it, let me know what you think!

    • March 21, 2011 10:11 pm

      Thanks March. I had not seen that. Such a fitting comment on how temporal we are. I think the rocks in this film are Time in my story.

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