The fire took what disease, windstorms, and harsh winters had been unable to scathe. It took the patriarchs, and with them it desired to take the grove. Its flames ravenously ate the thick bark that had stood through the floods of spring, the droughts of summer and the frigid bite of winter for years. Maybe their time had come, but the grove, it seemed, was forever changed.
Gone were the paths that lovebirds had meandered down. Gone were the forts of childhood. Gone was the campsite, where the generations of man had met, where the wisdom of the ages had been imparted. All that was left, was a charred landscape, still smoldering days later, whose blackness seemed to chase away the rays of the sun, on even the most pleasant of days. The bodies of the patriarchs still remained, stripped, and disfigured. The grotesque forms mocking the memories of the grove. So man left.
He left the grove, because of the pain. The pain of what was lost, seemingly never to return. He left because he couldn’t walk the paths. He couldn’t crawl through the tunnels of the briar patch and he couldn’t listen to his ancestors anymore, for they were gone, and to enter the grove meant to be covered with the darkness that enshrouded the grove. But the grove was not lost.
Later, in the silence of solitude, a miracle occurred. Feeding on the very darkness that had tried to destroy it, the grove began to return. From the ashes of the patriarchs came hope. It stared as a small green twig, pushing through the darkness. Soon thousands joined it. And, in time, the darkness was destroyed and replace with hope, as a new generation of cottonwoods began to grow, reaching for the sun. But the grove grew alone, for man was gone. And the grove waited.
Years later, man returned. To his joy, the grove was there, though it was not as tall as he remembered. The paths returned and man’s children made new forts, while man remembered the grove of yore. Lovebirds meandered through the grove, and the trees shaded them. The darkness was gone and the sun could bee seen all through the grove. Time passed and man built a campsite. For the grove had returned.