February 26, 2018
By ToriHilmanowski BRONZE, Park Rapids, Minnesota
ToriHilmanowski BRONZE, Park Rapids, Minnesota
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I hopped off the bus at Brush Lake, and felt the chilly morning air pinch my skin. This was the school forest I had been coming to for as long as I could remember. I felt strange knowing this would probably be the last time I’d ever come to Brush Lake on a field trip with my classmates, or come to the forest at all. In the sunlight, the dewy grass glistened like diamonds. The forest surrounded me. A state of change. The trees surrounding me had various colors of leaves. The leaves were shades of yellow, green, and brown.  Dying plant life slouched toward the wet ground. I was chilled from the frosty morning air, and decided to find a spot of sunshine to sit and take in the forest. In the forest there were two paths to take, but either way it ends up going in a full circle. I take the left path, and wander around.  A sea of leaves, lay across the forest floor. On a little trail, to the left of the main path, was a little circle of sunshine. I decided to sit there and soak in the sun.
  As I sat, a leaf fluttered down, landing on my blanket. This caused me to glance up. I noticed a small tree, only about 8 or 9 feet in height. It was skinny, only about the width of two or three of my fingers. It had little patches of green moss dotting its trunk, from the bottom to the top. At the top, were little branches filled with bright leaves, in shades of green, yellow, and brown. This small tree, would take time to grow and reach the height and fullness of the trees surrounding it. It was beginning the process of losing its leaves for the season.

As a senior in highschool I will experience several  lasts. The things I’ve known forever will slowly start to end, just as the leaves on the little tree will slowly start to fall off.
I can smell the crisp autumn air as it gently blows around me. The musky wood like scent reminding me that summer has ended, and soon I will face several endings myself. The first of many lasts I will experience are the sports I participate in. They’ve had a significant impact on my life. I’ve spent countless hours, practicing and preparing for tennis matches and track meets.  Before I know it, I’ll serve my last ball, and cross the finish line of my last race. A huge part of my life will be over. A leaf off the little tree, falling to the ground.
I gaze out at the path I walked to get to my spot with sunshine. I smile to myself knowing my classmates and I contributed to creating the worn down paths over the years.  My time spent with my friends will come to a close. In the blink of an eye, the lights on the football field will turn off, and all the cheering alongside my friends and classmates at the Friday night football games will disappear. Time spent sitting in my friends’ bedrooms, laughing, talking, and doing anything but homework will be gone. The smell of bonfire smoke on my clothes after a night with my friends will fade away, as another leaf drops to the forest floor.
I look up at the trees towering above me, protecting and giving me shelter, reminding me of my parents. My time spent with them is winding down. Mornings spent eating breakfast with my parents before school, discussing what the week's agenda holds, slowly slip away, as each day passes.  Knowing that after a tough day, getting to go home to talk and give my mom a hug, while my dad tries to crack jokes to make me feel better, will soon turn into phone calls. Another leaf floating to the ground.
I glance around at all the beautiful colored leaves in the midst of their changing. Once they fall off the tree, nothing would be the same. That exact leaf would never be placed on that tree again. Similar to how once I graduate, from the Park Rapids Area High School I’ll never be a student there again. The school will no longer be my tree.  My last day of school will roll around quickly. Gradation will be my biggest last of all. I will sit in my  black cap and gown, listening to speeches about the years spent at this school, and how life is only beginning. Once I walk across the stage to receive my diploma, the life I’ve created at the Park Rapids Area High School will be over.  The familiar halls and faces of my teachers and classmates will become a distant memory in my mind.
The last leaf falling to the ground.
As I approach all these lasts in my life I will think of the little tree I observed, on that chilly September morning.  I know that even though the tree is losing all its leaves, it’s getting ready to grow new ones. It will continue to grow bigger, and gain more branches and leaves as the seasons pass. High school ending is only the beginning for me.  I have anxiety about these changes. It won’t be easy, but I know the best is yet to come. I won’t forget all the lessons I learned to get to this point. They have helped me grow to where I am now, but it is not the end of my growing. I will go off into the world and and meet new people and gain new experiences, just as the little tree will continue to grow bigger and taller, as each year passes.
My time in the forest came to an end. As I began walking back towards the bus, I took a fleeting look around the beautiful forest one last time. I no longer saw the forest as dying, rather as a new beginning. I glanced out the bus window, and felt a sense of calmness wash over me. The sun shone bright through the branches as the vibrant leaves gracefully floated to the ground.

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