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The Business of Nature

A developer changes his plans concerning a magical forest.

By Skyler SaundersPublished 27 days ago 7 min read
Top Story - March 2024

Dew drops reflected the light of the sun. The inhabitants of Whispering Woods woke up to the golden droplets of water on the leaves of the flora. The oaks particularly enjoyed the light and the maples did, too. Happiness enveloped all who lived there, even the rocks that cried out in the night delighted in the morning.

“I hear that there’s going to be a hatchet, ax, and saw for us,” Gaster the tallest and most wise oak tree related.

“Nonsense, respectfully,” Mabel Maple replied. “They’re just gearing up to provide us with nutrients, to grow and flourish.”

By PARK HONG KYU on Unsplash

“I think I would know better, Mabel. I’ve been here longer than you and have acquired more knowledge about the ways of the man.”

Willa the white wood aster peered up at the both of them. Her petals looked precious, like lips kissing the air and drinking in the sacred bits of water.

“I know they’re going to come after me first. I’m the most delicate flora in the forest.”

“Now, now,” Mabel admonished. “There’s no place for boasting in these woods.”

“It’s not boasting if it’s true,” Willa retorted.

By aisvri on Unsplash

Gaster looked at them both and grinned. “You both are missing the point. They’re going to chop down, root up, and plow through all of this soon. We should be concerned with that alone.”

“You’re right, Gast’,” Mabel said. “I mean they want to rip into this lush greenery and speckles of color like Willa. It is true that you are beautiful.”

“There,” Gaster said. “The truth comes to light. We, however, have greater concerns. The humans are trying to take our lives and use them for their own benefit. They will raze this land for a minimart or a megastore, whatever benefits them. We’ll be good for them to cut down and make into furniture. You, Willa, will have to live in a greenhouse, far from the majesty of this magnificent wood.”

Willa began to tear up a bit. Mabel stiffened her lip. “I’m not going to be chopped down. I know far too much about this place. I know that I’m ready to bring my abilities to reason with the humans.”

Mabel had that exact opportunity when a group of men and women came through the land. They had walked about two miles from another site where trees and flowers had been brought down to make shopping centers.

By Sergei A on Unsplash

The leader, Mel Kipken, had cedar skin like the once sleeping cedar who awoke after hearing Gaster, Mabel, and Willa. Hargrove the Cedar appeared disturbed. “Would you all knock it off?! I need to get some rest!” he looked at the trees and the flowers and then the group of people walking through. His eyes strained. “What on Earth…?”

“Sir, we’ve got about six months before we get crews in here. We’ve noted that the different living systems will not be affected like in past efforts,” Pamela Paley announced.

“Except for the different living systems….”

“That’s what I said, right?”

“Yes, but we’ve been beaten by other contractors and builders to develop this land. Finally, I get a piece of the action and I’m relegated to demolishing this pristine forest.”

“Yes, but don’t you think we have to improve on this land? If we don’t use it for our gain, then it will just be nothing,” Carl Vasser remarked.

“Why don’t you two go back. I’ll just go deep into this wood and get a feel for what it’s like to be in here.” Pamela and Vasser shrugged and turned back. Kipken shielded his eyes from the sun. The smell of peat moss and bark hung in the air and stimulated his olfactory sense. He walked deeper and heard a voice. Gaster looked down on Kipken and smiled. “Don’t be afraid.”

“What the hell?! Who’s in here?”

“Just us flora,” Mabel said.

“We’re here to talk to you,” Willa asserted.

Kipken’s heart thundered in his chest. “Alright, alright, I’m losing my mind.”

“No, you’re not. We’re sentient beings in this forest. We know what you are here for, after all.”

“Okay, now I’m talking to plants. Yep, two sessions of therapy a week is not enough.”

“Stop it!” Mabel snapped.

By Florian van Duyn on Unsplash

Kipken grew quiet.

“You’re here to try to get this land cut down so you can build up structures so that your kind can enjoy this place, is that not right?”

Kipken finally got a grip and permitted himself to interact with the trees and flowers. “Yes, I’m a developer. I’m a developer who wants to ensure that this land be converted to condominiums for students in the nearby college.”

Gaster laughed. “I can only imagine the amount of time and effort that would suffice destroying our home to make it into a place for university kids to be able to get drunk and get into all kinds of trouble.”

“I know,” Mabel said. “That’s the equivalent of us knocking on your door, or knocking down your house in a severe storm.”

Kipken sighed. “Whatever is going to happen, it will happen because of me. I am the head of this entire operation. It is my money that I’m putting up for this whole thing.”

“Well, maybe you should reconsider,” Mabel suggested.

Kipken looked down at the lushness. The glow of the drops of sun made the enchanted place all the more special. He looked around and breathed in the air with his eyes closed.

“They’re going to think I took one of your mushrooms if I tell them that the forest was talking to me.”

“No, they won’t. We’ll let them know, too,” Willa added.

“No, no. This is on me. I’ll tell them the truth about this place. I’ll let them know that there’s a woodland with thinking beings that enjoy a sense of wonder and just want to be kept safe from the blade of a chainsaw.”

Willa spoke next. “You know you don’t have to do this. You can just let us perish and be like so many other developed places that dot America. You can keep building in this tiny state of Delaware. Our magic derives from the fact that so few people know about this state,” Mabel informed. “We all woke up one morning with knowledge and understanding coursing through us like chlorophyll.”

“So, I’ve noticed,” Kipken said wryly.

“It is totally up to you to change the course of your business plan. We can influence you, but we’ve no way of halting your progress,” Gaster said. He looked saddened in his wooden face.

Kipken delighted in all of this rhetoric. “I happen to like my place in all of this. It’s special to realize the different leaves that hang and the dirt under my feet. I look at the depth of the wood and think of the power of sorcery that came to all of you. The amazement of a forest that has a mind is something that is too much to look past.”

By Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash

“What are you thinking of doing? I mean, you say you love the luxuriance of the woods and the harmony of the branches and the stems. You enjoy all of the power and majesty that this place has to offer. What are you going to do?” Willa asked.

“Yes, I’d like to know, as well. What do you plan to do with all of the money that was allocated for demolishing this very setting? What are you going to tell your shareholders after they didn’t get a chance to see the construction of the condominiums for the college kids? How will you break that to them? What is your goal? What is your plan?” Mabel asked.

Gaster chuckled. “Alright, alright. Give the man a chance to answer.”

Kipken walked around the wooded area again. Each time, he found a mushroom or some leaf and almost saluted them. He never called himself a treehugger, but with these unforeseen and ultimately fortuitous events unfolding before his eyes, he had to decide.

By Leo_Visions on Unsplash

“It’s clear. It’s done. I’m going to plop my half a billion dollars down to protect this land and make it completely privatized. I’m going to own the space, but not any of you. What I can do is make this a park for people to visit and learn from you all,” Kipken replied.

Gaster, Mabel, and Willa all looked at each other with knowing glances. They all turned to Kipken.

“We’ll see,” Mabel said.

Pamela and Vasser returned to the wooded area where Kipken stood.

“What is it, boss man?” Vasser asked.

“Yes, I’d like to get out of these sticks,” Pamela mentioned.

“Come on, I'll show you the talking flora.”

“What are you talking about?” Pamela asked.

Kipken brought his colleagues to the enchanted forest but none of the trees or flowers or mushrooms said a word.

“Have you been seeing and hearing things, sir?” Pamela asked, a sense of sincerity tinged with derision in her voice.

“This is beyond you, Mel. I mean we spend all of this time out here and you’ve been talking to plants.”

“That’s right. If you just listen…you can hear them.”

Pamela and Vasser heard Gaster, Willa, and Mabel humming. Their eyes turned to saucers. Wide grins spread over their faces.

“We’re calling it off. The whole thing,” Pamela made plain.

“We’re going to what?” Vasser asked her.

“You heard me. The whole thing. I’m going to make this place our own. Privatization at its best,” she said.

“Look, a humming forest isn’t going to be so….” Vasser stopped. He started again. “We can definitely turn a coin with Whispering Woods.”

By Annie Spratt on Unsplash

“That’s the idea,” Kipken said.

“Now, we’re going to trash the previous plans and implement new ones,” Vasser said.

Kipken took another look at his earthy friends. They all winked back and shook a leaf or petal at him. “This is the business of nature.”

Inspired by the genius of the late, great Neil Ellwood Peart.

Rush- "The Trees"

HistoricalFableYoung AdultShort StoryHumorFantasyfamily

About the Creator

Skyler Saunders

I’ve been writing since I was five-years-old. I didn’t have an audience until I was nine. If you enjoy my work feel free to like but also never hesitate to share. Thank you for your patronage. Take care.


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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (11)

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  • Andrea Corwin 21 days ago

    I love trees. They cut many around me for development and I hate it. The photo at top looks like places in the Pacific NW. You included this, which is most likely how they DO think: “Yes, but don’t you think we have to improve on this land? If we don’t use it for our gain, then it will just be nothing,” Carl Vasser remarked. Loved your story. I did 2 for the Whispering Woods challenges, a long and a short. Unfortunately the ones destroying forests do t realize their root systems are connected and it is like cutting off someone’s arm. 😭

  • Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It is the little changes that produce the largest changes. Many thanks for sharing!

  • This is worthy of the Top Story your received Skyler. It’s also appropriate for Earth day with its nature scene. Love it.

  • Alex Bobby2 months ago

    nature is one of the keys to humanity.

  • kathy ket2 months ago

    I am adventurous. Meet Me??Ok Clack New:

  • ROCK 2 months ago

    Newly subscribed! Congratulations on Top Story!

  • pesabaf2 months ago

    Great! I love morning and chill with

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • D. J. Reddall2 months ago

    A charming fable!

  • Test2 months ago

    What a heart warming read. So glad Kipken had a revelation. So many beautiful lines too- You got me comppletely engrossed with the rocks cryng out a night finding delight in them morning. We do so mycj wrong to this world of ur 🤍

  • Novel Allen2 months ago

    The trees talk to me all the time. Just in whispers which sounds like music and secrets which I have to imagine. Nature is wonderful, we should be living like Tarzan and swing through the tree branches. Imagine how fit we all would be.

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