The living giant

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The jungle stretched before them, as unassailable as an ancient fortress, with its gates bared and guarded. The trees stretched to the heavens, and the humid air underneath the foliage mixed with the perspiration on the plants, causing the jungle to glitter menacingly. Undaunted by nature's display, the group of travelers moved forward, deeper into the rainforest, following a guide they barely knew.

Inside, the air grew hotter, until the group felt as if they were slowly being baked inside a giant, green oven. The humidity took its toll, making each step a challenge, as the dense undergrowth refused to grant passage. The jungle was alive with sound, cries of exotic birds of every type, periodically punctuated by a distant screech or roar. The group instinctively huddled closer together, both humbled and awed, by their strange environment.

Soon, the journey was over. The green wall of trees ended suddenly, and the group emerged into a large clearing. In the center stood a great tree, its highest branches towering over the green ocean of surrounding trees, soaking up the sunlight. A whispering broke out amongst the group, this was after all, the reason for the journey.

“The tree has stood here for countless generations. It is considered to be sacred by many of the native tribes that lived in the area”, intoned the guide, his voice strangely distorted by the heat. “This tree is taller than any other found in this jungle, it is a wonder of the natural world.”

The lecture continued, the guide regaling us with facts and figures about the tree, granting us a deeper insight into this living giant. All too soon, it was over. We trudged back to our campsite, so intent on what we have witnessed, that there were no complaints of the smothering humidity, or of tired feet.

I don't remember much else about the trip, I was worn out by the trek through the jungle, and so spent the rest of the time in a deep daze. However, the tree was not forgotten, its memory awakened a sense of wonder towards the natural world around me. This deep regard for all tings living stayed with me my entire life. It lead me to become a biologist, to pursue the great mysteries of life. Which is why the news were such a hard hit.

Some time after my visit, the great tree, and the wondrous jungle were cut down, their ancient lives ended. No trace remains of the living giant, but its memory perseveres. The sense of wonder it has inspired lives on in me. And through my research it is passed down to future generations, who will one day stop, and think, “What a beautiful world it is, that we live in”.





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