No matter which way I looked, all I could see was a perfect white. Every tree and every path was entirely covered in snow.
The thought crossed my mind and I pushed it away before I began to get caught up in the scenery. The snow, as beautiful as it might seem, had taken the previous life of the forest. The magnificent colors and sounds that had once thrived had been erased by the winter. It was so odd to think now that the last spring had been so much more beautiful than ever before. An even livelier appearance had come up after the last harsh winter: the beautiful pinks, whites, and bright greens that signaled the rebirth and vitality of the forest had lasted longer than usual. The green shared by all the trees went on endlessly with the most beautiful of colors popping up between the many trees. Dark red roses, bright pink peach blossoms, golden tulips and every color in between had bathed the trees in beauty. It had seemed like a paradise.
I continued walking through the paths as I searched for some semblance of life. The current state of the forest made it seem as if that beautiful spring had never existed. Every sign of life was either gone or covered up entirely by the snow. The trees, then so alive and full of wonder, seemed now just hollow shells of their former selves. Even the great pine trees that had no sign of green to them. All the color had been absorbed by the ever-present white.
As I came to a clearing, I listened for any sound of life that might come. I stood perfectly still with my eyes closed and just listened. I longed to hear the singing of birds or the rustling of a rabbit, but no sound came.
I yelled out in frustration, hoping that my sorrow would elicit some response. The only sound that was present was the howling of the wind. It danced gleefully between the trees and made its way to my ears. It carried to me the message that the snow had given it: Death consumes all.
The sounds had been so different before. The summer brought all of the animals back to the forest. Each and every one made their presence known and brought with them a unique aspect of life. A single day included the songs of countless birds, the buzzing of insects, and the knocking as the woodpeckers made their homes. The signs of life were everywhere. The wind also carried the message of the forest then, although it had been one full of life. A simple breeze became so much more when it carried with it dancing leaves and the sweet scents of the flowers and tees. The warmth could be felt as it continued to grow. It was not the same as the spring. The spring had always carried a juvenile type of ecstasy with it. Everyday was a rush to see every sign of beauty that abounded. It didn’t seem that anything was ever wrong.
The life in the summer felt much more mature and conscious of itself. The days seemed to slow down, and the sacrifices made by some inhabitants were much more visible. Death had made itself an inhabitant of the forest, but life always came from it. It was a struggle for the trees and animals to live on, yet they did. It fought for its right to continue on everyday, and it seemed that it could continue on perpetually.
Yet, just like the spring, this also ended.
Light orange began to freckle the forest and brought with it doubt. One by one the trees became convinced that life would fade away and yield to death. The leaves lost their lively green and replaced it with the red, orange, and yellow that seemed to promise life would return. Even while waving that flag of defiance, the leaves began to fall and the colors to fade. The animals took note of the change and dispersed. The sounds and colors disappeared and gave way to the cold and white that now inhabited the forest.
Now the winter had its grasp firmly set on everything. Nothing remained, and it felt as if it would stay that way. No matter where in the forest I went it was the same: Life was gone. The cold eventually seeped into my very being and I came to accept the death that surrounded me. I barely made the effort to continue on, it just didn’t seem worth it anymore. Whatever demands this torturous cold made, I would give in. There had been a short period when I thought that it might fade away and leave the way for life to return, but the returning warmth had faded away before it even had a foothold.
I felt entirely defeated.
I decided to make my way to my favorite tree. In the spring and summer it had always yielded the most beautiful of flowers, and I loved to sit under it and just take in the view around it. I found it in the same state that the rest of the forest was in: A hollow visage of what I remembered it as and completely covered in snow. I sat under it and looked about. Disappointed with what I saw, I closed my eyes and remembered what the view had once been like. The beauty that I remembered brought a smile to my face, but I was simply in rejoicing memories. I brought opened my eyes to bring reality back into my mind, but I was astounded by what I saw.
A peach petal.
It sat on my lap and contrasted the unyielding white with a beautiful hue of pink. I simply stared at it for a few moments and then realized what it meant. I got up and looked up at my tree. I didn’t expect that what I sought would be there, but it was. A single blossom had sprung up in its lovely pink. The tree must have felt the short period of warmth that had taunted me and began to come alive again.
I felt my hope reigniting. I was so absorbed in the blossom. The smile that had faded so quickly began to return to my face. It wasn’t due to happiness though.
I finally understood and accepted the cycle. Life blossoms, but it also withers. The height of either part of the cycle doesn’t mean the end of the other, it just means there is so much more potential for the other to grow. Both must coexist and be accepted. Death and life are eternally bound together. And just as the freckles of orange in the fall that signal the doubt of life and coming period of death: the first pink blossoms signal the growing hope and life of the spring.