© 2020 Natures Wild Neighbours Society

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In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. - Margaret Atwood

Photographer: Jean Malek


The life of a dandelion 

Jeesica W. 
Age 15 

The Life of a Dandelion. 

The dandelion gasps as the little boy pinches her fragile stem. His fingers suffocated her, choking the very life out of those ivory petals and shiny lime leaves. 

Then as the last seconds of her life tick by she remembers. She remembers starting out as just a seed, a little speck attached to the bottom of her mother’s stalk. Her mother, although fair with a sweet fluttering fragrance was one plant out of thousands and the dandelion was no more than one seed out of many.   

Still, she remembers quite clearly the coolness of the wind as it broke her free from the stalk. She had waved goodbye to her siblings and drifted away, the prospect of the unknown future filling her with joy. 

She had flown above the treetops, heard the sound of the fat robins singing and the tiny plink plink of acorns falling from trees. The strong smell of pine had made her dizzy as she floated along dancing with the wind. 

After three days of drifting under the stars and swirling under the sun the wind brought her to the ground. She remembers the warm dirt coating her shell and slowly sinking deeper and deeper into the rich wet mud. 

Then she slept. She had slept through the cold bitter nights when the ground froze and the trees turned a sparkling white. She had slept through the frozen lakes and the dark evenings when the sun itself went to sleep. 

And then the cold had stopped. 

The dandelion had woke to the first rays of spring and slowly smiled at the new bright world. She discovered new leaves and petals adorned to her green body and the birds above her tweeted their compliments. 

She had lived life for another four days, listening to the rain patter and making friends with the spotted mushrooms on the bottom of the oak tree. 

Until one day a little boy spotted the dandelion and with a tug of his fat finger ended the life of a dandelion who had flown above the trees and danced with the wind. 


Christelinda L. 

Age 18 

Moves like water
Grassy ripples
Quiet pause
Flash of gold
One squeak



Christelinda L. 

Age 18 

Listen to the wind
The branches bow and tremble
Leaves fall down like rain


5 Senses at Low Tide

Christelinda L. 

Age 18 

Fresh Breeze
Sparkling waters
Salty Taste
Seagull Cries
Decaying Seaweed


Here Comes Lady Autumn

Vivian C. 
Age 15

Here comes Lady Autumn, who grants bountiful harvests for all. Adorned in a gown of fire and smelling of smoked applewood and sweet pumpkin spice, she treads as gently as a sloping river over the fallen leaves.

Tree Wisdom

Christelinda L. 

Age 18 

little Tree
I see you outside
looking so happy and free.
Wiggle your roots deep into the Earth.
Feel the warm sun on your young leaves!
Rustle your leaves, sway in the wind
Look at the birds soaring above.
Reach high, little Tree!
Feel the joy
Soon, little tree
You’ll be big like me!


The Beach

Seth D. 
Age 10 

When I’m at the beach
I’m as happy as a peach

The sand is all smooth
And the water doesn’t seem to move

You can be a bear
Not like I will car

The wind in my hair
Like music to my ear 

I could play in the sand
But that’s too bland

The sea is nice
But sometimes it feels like ice


Climate Change

Seth D. 
Age 10 

Climate change
Is like to rearrange

The puzzle of the atmosphere
Like a shaken beer

The atmosphere will be destroyed
Like an asteroid

It will look like a deflated balloon
Holding on to the moon

If we don’t do something
There will be nothing

We will be left behind
In our past mind.

Concrete World

Om B.

Age 13

Concrete World

The concrete world today, 
A gargantuan creation of man
Surely expanding day by day, 
All part of a decided plan. 

Nature replaced with stone, 
The stars blocked out by lights, 
Perhaps we may not ever atone
For violating the constellated nights. 

Birds are as if behind bars, 
Their territory demeaned
Chirps replaced with horns of cars, 
A blaringly obnoxious scene.

Homes replace the grass and trees 
A new habitat for man, 
We do not heed Mother Nature’s pleas,
Although we clearly can. 

The weather beaten dirt, 
Covered by asphalt, 
Perhaps if more alert, 
We may finally halt. 

A wasteland of rock
Devouring grassy plains, 
If the environment could talk, 
It would lament over its remains. 

Humans have created this concrete world
At the expense of our natural wonders,
Soon the result will become unfurled,
And reveal our enormous blunders. 

the Girl

Sheena S. 
Age 16

the kid climbed the Sycamore tree
as high as he could go,
and daydreamed
Dreams of tomorrow.

his knuckles hurt
his face was bruised,
blood was smeared on his shirt
and dirt was on his new shoes

he closed his eyes,
and tried to imagine the pain away
while he wondered why
it had to be this way

a hand caressed his
and a shock of pain went through him.
he looked up to see who it is
and saw a Girl right next to him

as She sat still on the branch of the Sycamore tree
picking the dust off Her ripped jeans
as Her auburn hair blew in the breeze
She looked like a farm queen

She then slipped Her hand in his
and even though it was sore,
He let it
as they sat on the branch of the Sycamore.

Four solemn souls

Alexis B.
Age 17

I feel mercy for four solemn souls that are just based on how they seem 
They say one is sad and alone for her heart is cold as snow 
Her brother silent, and hypnotized by the colors of the world like an eternal daydream 
Then comes the star child loved by all, the warmth of her smile can make everything grow 
The last brother always expected to be great, so proud, and bold 
Always looking for a party, and have a great time 
He knows all the secrets of teenage mischief that go untold 
His favorite pastime is to go visit the shoreline. 
Its cold out just stay in they say 
Only noticed because tis the season 
Years of being alone has made her grey 
What's the point of being joly when you’re only remembered for one reason 
Starchild always wanting to spring into action 
With all her beauty, hear her song through the trees 
She brings all types of reactions 
Just ask the pollen, and the bees 
The last soul, quiet and from the rest more matured 
Sees the people around him in every color 
To him we are just falling leaves on a chilled breeze yet he’s still allured  
All though he’s quiet and prefers to be alone you can notice his presence toward the end of summer. 


Alexis B.
Age 17

The sun dips behind the arc,
Slowly slipping into the dark.
Although his brightness is out of sight,
You never have to look far to see his light.

The trees shine with a tawny glaze,
The sky, a raging chrome blaze.
A river runs like liquid gold,
A cluster of buttercups, blonde and bold.

A lemony bird taking flight,
Riding the rays of fading light.
Fire flies twinkle like countless stars,
Mourning their loss from afar.

The sun rests beyond the mountains, 
But our memories of him soar to the thousands.
Although his loss burns like flames,
His endless love still runs through our veins.

Your laugh, your smile, your life we will miss,
But we will always love you Chris.


Summer's Christmas Lights

Elyse K. 
Age 18 

Summer’s Christmas Lights

    An earthy scent travels in the breeze as my father and I tiptoe through the forest. The moon smiles high above our heads and shines her cheerful glow along the path. Although the journey isn’t foreign to me, the night seems to hold something new. All around me the trees rustle with excitement. The crickets play a gentle tune, lulling all the hidden creatures to sleep. I am humming along, looking down at the illuminated path, when I notice the absence of my father’s steps. I slowly lift my head. I know exactly why he stopped. The fireflies. Millions. Billions. Trillions. Countless flashing lights dancing in the pines. 

“It’s just like Christmas,” I whisper to my father. He asks if I could take a photo, but I know this moment is too special to capture. There are rare moments in a photographer’s life that should be left to play out like a movie instead of seen through a lens. However, this isn’t the first time I have been mesmerized by firefly magic. 

My little toes were tickled by grass and my hands were stretched up grasping at the night air dense with flashing bugs. Giggles erupted from my throat and the warm beachy wind blew my golden curls. A tall, plump figure appeared next to me. My PopPop came outside to help me catch the fireflies.

“Elyse, let me show you a trick!” He demonstrated how to carefully guide the bugs into my hands and cup it gently so I could examine them up close. The little glowing creature crawled all over his rough builder’s hands and took flight soon after. PopPop smiled down at me before moving onto the porch with the other adults to drink his “shluky.” I raced around the yard for another 15 minutes until I caught every firefly that night. My stubby legs carried me over to my grandfather’s lounge chair, pushed me up into his cozy lap, and curled into my chest until I fell asleep to the beat of PopPop’s steady heartbeat.

As the fireflies sparkled in those pine trees, I couldn’t help but think of my grandfather. He would always go for a morning walk on the beach as the sun came up over the horizon. Every morning I would wake up and rush to the kitchen table to find the crumb-bun box neatly tied with red string. He knew how much I loved sugar for dessert. On mornings that weren’t too hot, PopPop would take me and my cousins to the dock to go crabbing. Homemade crab traps made of a thin plank of wood, yellow rope, and a metal clamp with a chicken leg stuck on the end were our weapons of choice. We stayed there for what felt like hours, but they always flew by. 

When I miss my grandfather, I revisit those times of my childhood to see him smile and laugh and take care of his family. When I am at the shore taking photos, I remember how he always smelled like the beach and how his eyes were as gentle as the rolling sea. When life starts to get overwhelming, I remember how he could always make me laugh and would never put me in a timeout. I remember when he started getting sick, how frail he looked. I didn’t understand what happened to the strong, smiling man I knew so well. 

The wind is starting to pick up and a coyote calls out in the distance. I wipe the tears from my chilled cheeks and get ready to march forward. I know PopPop is gone, but he will forever live inside my heart and my memories. I turn to my father and we both know it’s time to move on. Together we crunch along, further into the forest, disappearing into the pine trees alit with summer’s Christmas lights. 

Like the Wind

Annabel Z. 
Age 12

Exploding into temper tantrums,
Howling, screeching, whining
Tearing past at enormous speeds
Trees bend, scrambling to get out of her way.

Like a kid in a candy shop,
This! That! These! Those!
A spinning funnel
Snatching what she wants.

In January, she turns a cold shoulder
Spitting out icy accusations.
In the wake of her anger,
Lies a silent calm.

Her stiff ways bend to softer caresses,
Relinquishing her anger
She nudges the porch swing,
Finally at peace.

Summer frees her playful side.
Racing children down the beach,
She gently brushes past,
Cooling, soothing, refreshing.

Lulled by the summer breeze, a false sense of security
Just around the corner, her temperament will whip into yet another storm.

ahead by a century? 

Grace G. 

Age 17

our humanity in our dealings with others still has a long way to go before we can truly think of ourselves as advanced. 
Behind closed doors social media has confined our youth into forming preconceived notions regarding others, and restricted our abilities to making meaningful connections with our peers. Millenials have been protrayed as incapable and incompetent, according to studies, they are most likely to quit and have been given everything on a silver platter 

We need more women with careers in stem field 

More time spent in real life, not on social media 
More love, less hate towards marginalized communtiies and to put the spotlight on diversity as a positive, not a negative (divergent) 
We need to start movements just like our fathers and grandparents (hippy) 
And stop the stigma associated with hippies
Stop the stigma related to mental health, and combat the current crises in our country such as opioids, cannabis, and environmental consumption or footprint 
The future needs technology, and advancement to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, and allow democracy to put those who are marginalized in favor- expose them to more opportunities to gain enough money and ressources and to allow the upper elite rich to contribute to their societies. We need to give the silenced marginalized communities a voice and allow them to grow out of their situations, and stop the leaders of companies to under pay their workers unsustainable minimum wages. The future jobs will not need labor, utting a greater emphasis on technology and engineering. Our future is about sustainability, sustaining our humanity, our appreciation, our respect towards nature, and our purpose in life. 
We no longer want to see our earth's resources as commodities but as priceless possessions which we want to keep for the generations to come after us. 
Being a hippy is not doing drugs and promiscuity 
But vying fro fredoms adn rights 
Our environemtn is declining at alraming rates
Animals, and our own welbbeing is in risk 
This leads to me , and what im doing to make a change 
I have a passion for the environment, and am in part of my schools me to we
I’ve already started campaigns where weve recycled plastic water bottles and sorted trash 
And a part of youth who want to make a change in our society.
If we all work together, our future will be in good hands


the outdoors

Eva C.

Age 14

i don’t think we’ll ever stop running 
through fields of golden, wheat grains sticking
between the gaps of our fingers --
how the whiskers of the seed,
dance with the wind.

i don’t think we’ll ever stop jumping 
across patches of sunlight, 
finding rocks tucked into our shoes, 
braiding daisy stems into flower crowns, 
digging our toes beneath cold sand
letting the ocean kiss our ankles.

strawberries in the spring will always taste sour
like a rash on your throat. 
a mocking bird sang our argument into a song
there will always be 
mud tracks on the carpet,
after fishing with dad. 

the clouds will never not 
look like a dog or a cat 
and the rain always has a different taste
when it slaps the thickness of my tongue 
pounce across my belly, dribbling -- 

i don’t think we’ll ever stop taking walks at 4am
i don’t think we’ll ever stop counting the stars
i don’t think we’ll ever stop laughing, crying, dancing 
i don’t think we’ll ever stop
loving the outdoors.

Forest Wilderness

John Muir

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

the sky writes me a love note

Eva C.
Age 14

the sky writes me a love note at 6pm
bruised with pink blemishes and swelling with blues.
hands me another at 9,
this time, a dome sprinkled with speckles of lights. 
one in december,
it comes in the form of pure white 
that kiss my cheeks and tickle my tongue. 
april became 
carides home with the rain 
drumming agaisn’t my window. 
sometimes the rain sounds like music,
or a marriage proposal. 
the sky wrote all golden letters --
my wedding ring a tan line,
the sounds of a hummingbird’s wings between 
wisps of wind became church bells. 
july 4th,
radiant hues ruptured the night --
the sky said
“ i love you ” between the ecstasy, 
and i held the love note 
cradled in my hands to sleep.



Jessica W.
Age 15

Crushing a red speckled strawberry in his hands the artist smears the sweet juice delicately across her lips. Taking out a small ladle he scoops into the night sky and pulls out a handful of stars, carefully adding a touch of moonlight before dabbing the mixture onto her eyes. Her cloak is weaved from the sun’s rays fashioned with gold ores and sparkly rubies. If you were to stroke her hair, you would feel the tips of the soft thistles that grow by the river.

The artist dips his paintbrush again and adds a layer of fine sand for her skin. He mixes it together with the yolk of a robin’s egg and gently sprinkles her with the scent of tulips. In her heart, he places a single grain of rice. And he watches with a smile as she comes to life. 

Bad Hair Day In the Savannah

Adachi A. 
Age 16

Bad Hair Day in the Savannah
By Adachi Amaram

A hairy pink tongue flits in
and out of whisker ornamented lips
like a frog lashing out to catch a rebellious fly.

Four legs collapse comfortably,
the muscles ripple like a tsunami
going in reverse.

Golden fur laughs,
tickled by the wind,
with hopes that it won’t tickle back.

A mane of gold eclipses
mini playful, vanity-filled fur balls
each grooming to ensure 
a hair isn’t out of place.

all efforts gone to the waste-
lands of the Savannah, 
as a black net descends from the heavens
 and entraps hair dreams.


The Future

Sofie D. 
Age 9

The wind blows at my wispy hair
My fingers becoming cold
I start to speed up
running through the leaves
turning in circles
I see the blur of color
red orange yellow and 
blissful green
combining as I run into my freedom
run into my home
and my future
I see what is ahead of me
The world goes spinning as I can’t remember 
the leaves I just ran through
I see something different
I see what we all have done to the world
the decisions we have made
what it looks like now
and I know
We can do better than this.


Butterflies Butterflies

Brynn M. 
Age 5

Butterflies, butterflies
They're good for their wings.
All I like to see
Is them flap their beautiful wings.

I like to see them flying by,
All I know is a butterfly.

The last leaves

Maire M.
Age 12

An orange leaf is floating down,
Breaking away from the tree's golden crown
Blowing, glowing, gone.

Amber leaves with their warm, gentle glow
Falling from trees like a bright orange snow
Drifting gently down.

The sun is setting in the west
And the cardinals lay down to rest,
as snowflakes drift past.

The ground and trees are coated in white
By the snow that's blown in during the night
Freshly fallen snow.

The leaves lay under the snow, buried deep
While all living things lay down to sleep
In winter's crisp cold.

Tree Trunks

Juliet V. 
Age 8

Tree trunks are a shield
Trunks help trees survive winter
They show bravery


Gorman Falls

Awak M.
Age 6

Gorman Falls

I liked going to Colorado Bend to see Gorman Falls.
We walked for a mile and a half to get there.
The waterfall was 70 feet tall. 
It was cold, I could feel it even though I couldn't get near the waterfall.
The air was misty.
The water was really clear.
It was feeding a pool at the bottom.
There were plants growing all over the rocks and being watered by the falling water.
They looked mossy and green.
The Colorado River flows by the pool and by the waterfall.


Quleanja L.
Age 14

Red, Yellow, and golden hues
Are the well-known fall cues
Summer has ended 
and gardens have been tended.
Days shorten as Night lengthens
and the cold weather begins to strengthen.

Have You Forgotten 

Hailey C. 
Age 17

Have You Forgotten
By Hailey Chutter

Why do petals 
Fall so carefully to the ground
Sit so perfectly in place
Just to be swept up in the wind

The snow 
Blanket huge mountains
Layer upon layer
Just to melt away in the spring

And the trees 
Grow fruit for months
Sweet, sweet fruit
Just for it to fall to the grass

Oh, but have you forgotten?

How the petals love to spin
And twirl in the breeze
How the snow loves to change
And surprise people suddenly
How the trees love to let go
And watch a new plant grow

And I,
Love running back to you.

Nature's First Green Is Gold

Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

The chickens

Seth D.
Age 10 

Our alpha is milky
Her feathers feel silky

Next is Ninja
The only rhyme is jinja

That is a city in Uganda
Though I live in Canada

Then is Drumstick
She’s the one who was hard to pick

After that is Golden
She is very hard to hold in

Last is Deep-fried
And you can’t say we never tried

Underground Warriors

Fumairia L. 
Age 16

The underground warriors
Do not march with feet
Instead they noiselessly crawl
Along to their own beat

They do not move within a unit
Nor have use for guns and tanks
They carry out their tasks
None having any special ranks

These soldiers push their ways
Through the hard and rocky soil
Either rain or shine, they all yet still
Relentlessly continue their toil

They help aerate the earth
And nourish all its inhabitants
These small but mighty heroes
Take their roles as the descendants

So next time you see them
Come up through the ground and squirm
Please do not step on one 
Of these friendly warrior earthworms! 


fibers in june

Frida J. 
Age 15

at night when the heat in the room is spun around by the ceiling
it condenses into spider silk, 
and from then on, it falls through the air 
and piles on top of me while i try to fall asleep.

the silk is heavy when i am still. on nights 
where i am stagnant, i sit up and break through all the millions of threads 
and press myself up to the window:

it’s open and a screen sits inside to filter. my sleepy eyes blur out 
the sharp intricacy of the mesh. it keeps the bugs out, but worse, 
it keeps me in. almost desperately, i clutch the wooden frame 
and press my cheek to the miniscule crosshatches; i imagine my hot breath
seeping through the partition slowly into the cooler night, 
and the idea only makes my heart rate quicken:

i feel claustrophobic and have the urge to knock out the frame 
by the plastic on the sides, or reach my palms right into the wire 
and clench my them into fists. i want to feel my fingers pop through the tension 
to break it away and crumple and condense it into my hands 
and to feel each strand of wire, tiny and thin like spider silk:

i cannot. so i let my face strain against the frame and i still myself. 
the wire smells sharp and earthy like what i smell hanging in
the limpid air outside. it smells like my brother’s sweat and a little like dust. 
it’s deliciously cold outside, and i wonder what 
the screen has done to the air, for it to have filtered in hot,
and what i have done to deserve the way it has made my room so warm. 

All Because Of Her

Isaiah L. 
Age 18

She greets us with a chill in the air and at times a cold and fierce blow.
She pulls our blankets back in an effort to make us get up, look out our window, and see her new blanket of snow.
She brightens our rooms with a very bright  and inviting light;
It is no longer the sun but it is the brightness of the outside Winter white.

She forces us to bundle up and shield ourselves with very heavy clothing.
She does this in an effort to prepare us for those fierce blows and that high white coating.
She opens up our doors and the scenery has been scanned;
We are now prepared to take those first steps into her beautiful Winter wonderland. 

She now greets us with a not fierce, but gentle blow.
We look down to the ground and notice the disappearance of the bright white snow.
She taps us with her rain releasing it as a drizzling; 
She provides her flowers with this beneficial source of life which is another sign that the season has transformed into Spring.

She has taken back her snow revealing her tall green grass.
We look into the drops of rain that possess the action of reflecting ourselves similar to that of glass.
She steals from us this pleasant sight in the effort of another season change.
She doesn’t feel regret because of the next season she will provide in an allowing exchange.

She warms us up with a blaze from the bright and yellow sun. 
The characteristics of this season opens up an agenda for a wide range of fun.
A feeling of freedom compels us and it is all because of her;
We feel free because of the lack of restrictions that we encounter during the time of Summer.

She provides a light blow from time to time which is very much needed.
But even with the raging heat it is hard to find any time to be seated.
Take a dip in the water or just lay out in the sun;
Just make sure you enjoy this time before Summer is officially done.

The last of her four seasons is another beauty that separates itself from the others;
It does so by showcasing a metamorphosis of the leaves’ colors.
We wonder what happened to the green leaves and where the red, orange, yellow, and brown came from.
She causes this change to inform us that it is time to fall into Autumn. 

Porches are aligned with jack-o’-lanterns during the period of October; 
Kids are also going from house to house asking for candy from the homeowners.
Then thanksgiving rolls around and the air is occupied by the smell of cooking food.
This is definitely something that will put you in an Autumn mood.

Throughout this poem you where probably bewildered at times when trying to comprehend who was being referred to when you came across “she”.
Well I’ll give you a hint it certainly isn’t me.
Because of our different preferences when it comes to the weather we all at times find ourselves hating her;
But that hatred doesn’t last very long because all of the beautiful things of the outdoors come from the one and only Mother Nature. 

High In The Sky

Shanelle F.
Age 14

If I were the wind:
I’d run, flee from the ground,
whisper mischievously in passenger’s hair,
blow birds about the sky and toss kites
high in the sky.

If I were a tree:
I’d adorn my hair with crowns
made from garlands of a robin’s nest.
Stand boldly as the cheeky winds rustle me,
and lift my leafy arms 
high in the sky.

If I were a flower:
I’d bloom tenaciously like rainbow silk
where dreams can be weaved from.
I’d bask in the sunlight filtering through the lattice of tree leaves
as I face my silky petals
high in the sky.

If I were a butterfly:
I’d dance in a whirl of colour, swimming
in the air, curling in the sweetest of swirls.
I’d charm rose petals with butterfly kisses 
as I, with fluttering wings, fly
high in the sky.

If I were the sun:
I’d rise, pouring my cascades of amber and honey rays
into the earth like a pot of molten lava.
I’d caress my children with scintillating golden lights
while hanging, like crystal orbs
high in the sky.

But I am me, the only thing I can do
is frolic with the wind,
lean on the proud trees,
praise the dancing flowers,
relish the velvety touch of a butterfly’s kisses,

I could look,
look very hard and dear,
with my fondly squinted eyes
high in the sky.


The Jasmine Tree

Yuwei D. 

Age 17

The Jasmine Tree
As the rain fell lightly from the sky, the old jasmine tree stood, unmoving, but the flowers flew down, all white like snow but with bright yellow underbellies. I sat down on the gray boulder with my two friends Chun and Liya from school. We used colorful chalk to draw our castle and then used our handmade “Shabao” plushies to act like the people inside. It was April in the city, the best weather I could ever have. However, the spring in Beijing was always short. After I lived there for fourteen years, it was still hard for me to catch the “true spring”—those perfect weather days. Summer always came so fast. That year, the rain lasted about a week, and it was finally the season for the jasmine flowers to bloom. Today, kids from school ran past the bushes near the street, some in a hurry to go back home to eat their mother’s handmade milk ice cream, others to fly kites in the field, but none seemed to notice the jasmine tree flowering overhead. 
Grandma was there, sitting on her old red-wooden chair, wearing her white silk qipao and her dark green cloth shoes. She sat there quietly reading her favorite book A Dream in Red Mansions and drinking her favorite jasmine flower tea.  
The flowers flew from the tree and landed on our chalk-drawn castle. Chun suddenly asked: “Oh, Lucy, how old is this jasmine tree? You said it’s more than 200 years old, right?” 
“No, it’s nearly 400 years old. And it’s been here since Grandma was a little girl like us,” I replied but kept my eyes on the tree. It was so tall, almost growing into the sky. I couldn’t even see the top. It was so huge, even ten people could not hug it using their arms. Grandma told me once that the tree was planted 400 years ago and started this life with my Grandma’s family. It has witnessed the prosperous times and the declines. In the 1920s, one rainy day, a flash came down from the sky, and boom! The middle of the tree was split in two. Everyone thought it would die, but it kept standing for almost a century after, just like my grandma has. 
Suddenly, I heard a sound. I glanced back and saw Grandma standing up. She didn’t say anything but just went straight toward our kitchen. She opened the yellow wooden door, and I saw her shadow. With the rainbow’s light reflecting on the exterior of the house, I heard the sound of a pot being opened, the smell of something good drifting into the sky and spreading into my nose. Oh, it was the smell of the jasmine flower, but, it was a little different. What’s that? A new kind of food? Did grandma make it? I turned back to Chun and Liya with the question marks in my head. 
“Lucy, Chun, Liya, come here. Let’s have some jasmine flower cakes!” the sound of Grandma’s voice went into my ear. I saw Grandma was standing there outside. She was so pretty, within the white silk qipao—simple but elegant. She held the jade green plate in her hand, and on it were the white jasmine flower cakes. She didn’t move. She just stood there smiling at me—so warm, so sweet, like an angel from the sky. 
The sunshine of April shone on her. With the warm light, the jasmine flower cakes looked like treasures. Grandma kept smiling and moved toward us. In her white clothes and green shoes, she was like a flower. She sat near the tree and put down the plate for us. “Let’s try it! It’s a snack I always had when I was young. I used the jasmine flower from this tree to make it,” she said. 
She handed me a cake. I put it in the middle of my hand, looked at it like enjoying a piece of art. The cake was as big as a cupcake, all white, with six red spots shaped like a flower. I put it near my nose. The smell of jasmine mixed with flour. I bit into the cake and felt the soft texture in my mouth. The jasmine flower juice, red bean paste, and jasmine flowers made it taste not overly sweet, but just right. Chun and Liya all took a cake from the plate and ate. We gobbled up the flour crumbs left in the plate. The rainbow was still hanging in the sky, the seven colors of it shining on the tree and on the flowers. The colors reflected in the white flowers and made rainbow petals.
Grandma sat there, smiling at our chalk drawn castle, and I imagined that she thought about her own childhood. We turned our heads to each other and smiled. With the fresh smell of the jasmine, the happiness was all around me. For me, happiness was the time I spent in childhood with my grandma, playing with my friends, eating the homemade food Grandma made, and sitting together under the old jasmine tree. 
Last summer, I visited grandma. The tree was still there, but my friends had all moved to the other cities. Outside the house, the bushes were gone. All around, tall office buildings stood shading her yard. But Grandma was still there, and the jasmine tree was still there. Grandma stood at the door of the house and smiled at me. Then she turned back into the kitchen to grab taro rice cakes. I sat down with her on the rock. She held my hand, and I leaned on her shoulder, listening to the happy songs from childhood. 

Oh, Deer, Smokies! 

Ella C.
Age 16

Your sight leaves me breathless
In shock, I start to dream
dream of what life could be
How it would be to wake up every morning
Ears ringing to the glorious sound of the life that lives all around me
And the remarkable smell of the pine and maple
In the distance, I hear a loud pounding of water onto rocks
As I move closer I see the gigantic and thrilling waterfall
Nearby, the trickling of water leads me to a small stream
FIlled with algae, crystal clear water, and oh so many pebbles 
I follow until the neverending path of water seems to have reached an end
This is the place I love, the place I need to need to be, and the place where I can truly be happy

a few months ago in a national park

Skylar C.

(Age 14)

i'm outside

but this time
i'm really outside

the constellation
of lights
in office buildings
and houses
don’t cloud
my vision 
so much 

instead of the warm, thick air
waves past me
a cup of water
with ice
that makes it too cold 

the tinny
of my phone
don’t take over
my mind

and i can smell
only steps away

all i can see
is the dark slope
of a mountain
into a sky
with stars
those foreign things

Rest in the grass

Honey W.

Age 16

I fall swiftly.
My back enveloped in the grass. Mottled shadow, following the waving leaves. I wish to melt into the forest floor. Fungi, disintegrate my skin, envelope me in your alien beauty. Let me dacay. Birds, take my eyes, use them to see this place as I do. Take my teeth, bury them like seeds, so I may grow here with you. Let my blood sink into the ground, feed the blankets of moss, turn them red as rubies. Bugs, burrow through my bones, turn them in to pure white sand, that may be swept into the sky by a cool breeze. Continue this. Continue my decomposition. Spread me out, let me exist in every part of this wildwood. Let the trees grow up through my heart, taller than I have ever lived, taller than I've ever looked. Reach the clouds and then the heavens. The moon and the stars.

timeline of the earth on which we stand

Anusha G.

Age 16

Calm and happy 
Thousands of lives form in front of your eyes
You can hear the chirps of a robin
The buzzing of a bee
The croak of a frog

The life she gives
She provides like no other
She cares like no other 
Started with anger 
Ended with bliss

Now the children have come forth
The ones she gives such tender love and care
The ones she provides for 
They don't love
They destroy and deprive

They kill the good 
They coddle the bad
She is terrified                                                                                                                                                                      She shouldn't have to bear this pain                                                                                                                        This hatred                                                                                                                                                                        This fear                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              She is a mother                                                                                                                                                                        One that I hold so dear                                                                                                                                                        I know that she loves me I know that she will be there                                                                                          But you all smother her until her lungs run out of air

There will be a day 
When she is no more 
Everything she has created
Will go along with her

When morning

Emma P.

Age 13

When the folds of blue have finally colored 
themselves sunset and captured Selfies and hearts. 
When the moon paints her marbles silver and rolls them 
across the floor of the sky for her earth to look at 
as she drifts off into her realm of dreams.

When people have tucked their spawn beneath blankets 
and sheets, promised morning and flicked off the lights. 
When the bloodshot sky clots around the horizon and 
commands us to call her dawn, whispering to her armies 
of trees to not move when they can be seen by people.

When the flowers return to their plots and gardens from 
their late bars and night clubs, and pretend to wake 
up from a deep slumber as if to fool us. 
When light is spread over our land like honey on morning toast, 
it looks like a road, or many roads rather, all pointing to the west, telling us we will find yesterday's sun 
but not where we expect it to be.

When the clock gently chimes it's morning Sonnet, 
the grass recites Haikus for the soil, 
the sky becomes an Acrostic for the sea, 
and the breath you breath this morning 
sounds like an Ode to the heart. 
When the poet wakes to the day calling her name, 
nothing will stop her from following.

The Sounds of Nature

Sam G.
Age 10

I sit here all alone today,
The silence of the wilderness is better than okay.
The trees surrounding me so tight, 
And the clouds blocking away the light.

The birds are singing their happy song,
And the squirrels are starting to sing along.
With the freezing air hitting my skin, 
I imagine a fiddle and violin.

The quietness of the nature is interrupted
 By passing cars and horns of trains
Blowing loudly,
And the pitter patter of falling rain.

Smoke in every smokestack,
I in the rain;
I sit meditating,
And bringing me back to sane.


Mother Earth is Satisfied

Chelsea G.

Age 12

Rushing rivers,
Golden sand,
Immense mountains,
The waves that dance.

Alluring flowers,
Grand sequoia trees,
Arresting hills,
And stunning seas.

Flowers in her hair, 
Stars dot the sky,
Crystal clear water,
Mother Earth is satisfied.