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The chatter and chirps from the rainforest animals filled the air with harmonious music. Monkeys screeched as they flew from tree to tree. Toucans cooed to each other from faraway trees and shrills from the tree frogs filled the humid morning air. All was well and the rainforest lived on.
Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. The air filled with soot with each step. Suddenly the music stopped and the animals disappeared into the thick underbrush. As the logger plodded through the dense jungle the animals watched. Eyes were glued to the woodsman as he slowly made his way to Wisdom Tree.
Wisdom Tree was the biggest tree in all the forest. Wisdom Tree, otherwise known as Ol’ Wise, was a home to hundreds of species. Ol’ Wise was one of the elders and had been around far longer than the animals. Every animal from tree frog to jaguars looked upon Wisdom Tree for knowledge. They all loved her as dearly as they loved each other.
So when that man stopped in front of Ol’ Wise you could almost taste the tension in the air. He drew a breath and swung the ax way above his head. Exhaling, he let the ax fall into the twisted roots of the mighty Ol’ Wise.
The animal’s jaws trembled in sorrow as they cried out in shock. Heaving deeply now the ax man held the ax high as sweat dripped off his unshaven face. With a gulp of air the man slammed his ax into the tree with all his might. When he tried to pull it out it was stuck deep within the tree. He tugged and pulled as he struggled to loosen the ax, but it wouldn’t budge. The man was exhausted, so he sat down for a rest. His eyes slowly flickered, the spongy floor was so soft, he couldn’t help but drift off into a deep slumber.
When the animals were sure the logger was really sleeping, they emerged from hiding. They all watched in silent horror while the boa constrictor slithered forward. Slowly the boa approached the man and hissed right next to his ear, “Ssssstop, Sssstop cutting our tree. We don’t want it to fall.”
The man slept on.
Next was a tree frog. “Please Sir, don’t cut down our friend.” croaked the old frog.
The man slept on.
A scarlet macaw swooped in and cawed, “This tree has been here for much longer than you’ve lived. It is my home. Don’t cut it down.”
The man slept on.
Pretty soon the whole forest had gathered around the man. Whispers and prayers floated through the air getting absorbed in the man’s ear.
Yawning, the man’s eyes fluttered open. He raised his hand to his face, shielding his eyes from the piercing sun. Slowly, the man sat up and opened his eyes. Breathing in a deep breath of air, he stood up to retrieve his ax. Yanking and heaving the man tugged and tugged on his ax. With all his strength he threw his body backwards and pulled with all his might. A loud crack sounded as the ax was freed.
Panting heavily the man swung the ax over his shoulder. Then he continued the job he had started.
Chop, went the ax.
Sob, went the animals.
Slowly, the toucan glided over to Wisdom Tree and rested on an overhanging branch. She cawed softly, barely audible, but it was filled with sorrow. Craning his neck upward the man saw the beautiful feathers. Looking a little farther up the tree he came across the slithering boa constrictor with his shiny scales. The man bowed his head, slumped his shoulders and slowly turned around. There in front of him sat the whole rainforest from flying squirrels to roaring tigers. Ashamed of himself he looked each animal in the eye one at a time. He saw the elephants and the giraffes. He gazed upon the leopards and the gorillas. He turned and stared at each animal until he reached the last one. He looked at them for a long time, and then turned to finish his work for his job depended on it. The man grabbed the handle of the ax ready to pull it out of the trunk, but what he saw made him stop.
There sitting on his ax was three small tree frogs. A father, a mother, and a tiny baby frog. They sat there gazing up at he man. The baby, so tiny and helpless. So small he’s not able to defend himself from the predators of the rainforest out to get him.
As the man stood there he had a flashback to his home. He was 10 years old and he had a 7 year old brother named Jeffery. Jeffery was born a month early so he was a runt. He could never keep up with the older boys while playing tag, and he was always the last pick for sports teams. There was one thing that Jeffery was good at. He enjoyed the forest and all the animals that lived in it. His favorite animals were the tree frogs, barely bigger than his thumbnail. He loved to sit and watch them hop up the tree. That all changed when Jeffery came down with Yellow Fever. He became very ill and couldn’t leave his bed. His tiny face grew paler and his body shriveled up. Then, he was taken from Earth to enjoy eternal life in Heaven. Every year on his birthday, the tree frogs would hop out of the forest and sit on the grave as if God was telling the family that Jeffery was in good hands.
The man stood there for a long time, watching all the animals of the rainforest. Then a runny tear escaped and ran down his cheek as he spoke two words,
The man turned, grabbed his ax and plodded in the direction which he had come. When the man was out of sight shrieks and chatter filled the air once again. For Wisdom Tree had been saved.
In the weeks to come the Wisdom Tree was to heal in the care of her loving forest friends. Every year on Earth Day, the tree frogs surrounded Wisdom Tree to celebrate her survival. For they had fought to save her so she felt she must stay strong and support them.