Losing the Forest
It was a week after hurricane Maria hit that I drove through the interior/forest of Dominica and what I saw completely broke my heart. It was then that I witnessed the aftermath of hurricane Maria that had unleashed a severe battering on our islands’ forest. What we once knew as our forest was completely gone. Battered, stripped of every leaf, even its’ barks. Everything looked dry and brown, almost as if a fire had passed through and burnt it. Seeing every tree so beaten, so battered, so molested was something I almost couldn’t comprehend. How could nature possibly do this? A once lush green forest was now merely sticks and dirt. All signs of greenery was gone and the once vibrant forest now seemed lifeless, hopeless and broken.
Thoughts of our farm and the effect that the hurricane had on our crops troubled me and every time I would approach the area I felt as if a cloud of darkness would cover me. I had to come to terms with the fact that if everywhere around the vicinity was so badly damaged then there was no way our farm could survive. It was even more difficult as for weeks we were not able to access the farm due to severe road blockage due to landslides and other storm generated debris. When we finally got access to the farm what we feared was now our reality. It was one of the things that hurt me the most. It threw my anxiety up a notch and made the already daunting experience even harder to cope with.
What is Dominica without the green forest? Is this even home anymore? These were some of the questions that haunted my mind and the answers never really came. The questions just hung suspended in mid air, annoying and troubling.
It was then that I realized how much the forest was part of a Dominican, it is ingrained within us. I didn’t realize how significant a role the forest played in my life until I no longer had it. And while every day we took it for granted when we lost it, the pain cut deep. The forest really is the heart of the country, and symbolizes the strength of the people. Apres bondie c’est la ter, which means after God the earth or besides God we love the soil, emblazoned on our country’s coat of arms, signifies the true core of our Dominica. This is the heart of our country, the earth, which would include our trees or forest and our people. So losing that really hit hard.
A Glimmer of Hope!
It was about three weeks ago that I was on my way into town from where I live. Our commute takes us through the forest and that is when I observed something so amazing. Upon approaching the area I witnessed something beautiful in the very place I felt heartbroken about two months prior. The trees were springing leaves again! I kept looking at the new leaves and the grass getting green again and it was one of the most encouraging things I had ever experienced in a long time. I was overwhelmed with joy, it made my heart so glad to see this and my eyes filled with tears. It was such a beautiful sight and I was so happy to see the forest fighting back. Fighting and pushing past what tried to kill it. Bouncing back and flourishing. I could see that though the trees were struggling to get passed the recent tragedy that they were determined to survive and thrive.
Then it hit me, the trees were teaching us how to get through this. They were talking to me. They were telling me that I am as strong as a tree and that I could get through any difficulty that challenged me. It was telling us to not be defeated, to stand tall and flourish in spite of the terrible thing that attempted to crush us. This simple observation spoke volumes to me. The trees were trying to tell us that it will be okay and all hope is not lost. You see they still had root in ground and that was life, even if they had lost all their leaves and their barks they were still connected to the source. Just like us, even if we may have lost everything we still had life and that is our source, and like the trees we can stand tall and start flourishing again.
The trees also made me realize that sometimes the challenge is required to unlock our growth and our true potential. You see post maria we got a lot of rain. It’s as if the rain couldn’t stop coming down. As if the heavens were crying for all the hurt that the earth was experiencing, but it was after those showers that the trees started springing new leaves. It came to mind that sometimes the rain or the storm in our life is the catalyst to our destiny. Sometimes this is what we require in order for us to grow and for us to flourish, so we can spring new leaves. Sometimes the tears will come, along with discomfort and uncertainty but if we only fight back with the right attitude and with the appropriate perspective then we will grow into the individual that we were destined to be.
So this is what the trees taught me, that if they can bounce back, if they can stand tall after being battered so severely, if they could be stripped of everything but life and still be beautiful, that even after this tragedy they could flourish then I could to. The trees taught me that I need to stand tall and thrive! The trees reminded me that as long as I have root in ground that I will be okay, that I will make it and so will you!