BY: Becca Ray
With each step I hear the leaves crunch beneath my shoes. I happily kick the small branches and even smaller twigs that rest on the forest ground. A strong intermittent breeze kicks up. My hair tosses in a new direction with each gust cooling my skin from the bright sun that seeps between the slatted roof of the rain forest, shaped in a sea of different shades of green.
I look around feeling astonished at the thousands of species that live together. There is a highway of leaf-cutter ants lined up one after another as they carry their cargo back to their colony. I see Monstera deliciosa Swiss Cheese leaves waiting, it seems, to be served on a sandwich. A Blue Morpho butterfly flies above my head into the tops of the trees.
I realize moving farther up the trail, the air is getting thicker. It’s as if I could stick my tongue out and taste the humidity. The terrain turns the corner and I with it. It’s as if this trail is creating a trail just for me, designating a path for me to travel. I slide my hands along the rocks to my left and the trees to my right. I think as if my finger tips are moving through years of history—dry seasons, wet seasons , storm. A history that I would never know.
I suddenly stop—and look up. Growing at an angle, there stands a magical tree. Its huge base creates an awning over the trail. It is like the tree is calling me in and asking me to come and play. It resembles a jumble gym like one found in the neighborhood parks of my childhood. It has little crevasses for feet to squeeze into and for hands to grasp on. I reach up grabbing the rough surface while sliding my left foot perfectly into a little hole. Reaching with the other hand, I pull myself up along this tree that has so much it could teach me. With each movement up the trunk, I take in the smell of moss that lines the bark that I’m holding onto. Clambering up to a ledge-like branch, I stand up.
I spread my arms out wide.
I try and catch the wind as it whistles between my fingers.
I listen to the harmony of bird calls echoing through this forest.
I experience the life that is this tree.