As I looked around to see who, or what, might be living in this little cave, I heard a small voice. "I'm over here!"
His name was Acorn Man and he was excited to have a visitor to his forested mountain home. "I've lived here all my life," he exclaimed. "Wait here, and I'll show you."
Acorn Man disappeared back into his cave. Soon I heard a voice above my head. "Here I am!" he said.
When I looked up, I spotted the little fellow waving at me from a hole in the trunk above my head. "I live in this high rise apartment," he said. "The woodpeckers cut this home out for me last year." Then he disappeared again.
Before long, I heard a voice on the other side of the tree. "The woodpecker cut windows all along the wall of my stairs, as well. I'll be down in a minute."
When Acorn Man was back on the ground, he took me on a tour of his forest. First we stopped at a little green tree. "The hemlock trees are being killed by an invasive insect called the wooly adelgid, so I've started a little project planting new ones," he said. "When the wooly adelgids are gone, my little trees will be ready to grow into big hemlocks."
After showing me his baby trees, Acorn Man asked if I had ever seen a tree heart. "They're very special," he said. "It's not often that a tree heart is visible when the tree is alive."
I admitted that I had never seen one, so our next stop was the heart of an oak tree. Acorn Man told me that the tree had been hit by lightning and the resulting scar had left the heart exposed.
Then he took me to what he said was the most special spot in the woods.
"This is the forest cathedral," he said reverently. "This is where the trees make a joyful noise." We listened for a minute. Sighs and creaks signaled that the choir was almost ready to start.
Then, with a big whoosh, the air was full of leaves drifting, twirling, spinning, and whirling.
"The forest sings with color," he exclaimed. "Isn't it beautiful?"
When the song was over, Acorn Man led me to his lookout tower. "I come here to watch out for intruders," he said. Then, he climbed up and pointed. "There goes one, now. But, he's okay. Sometimes, he comes here to sit and listen to turkeys."
The intruder left, so Acorn Man climbed down from his watch tower. "I'm tired," he said. "Let's take a nap." We walked through the forest looking for a soft place to dream. I found a place to pillow my head.
Soon, the chilly air woke me. It was time to go home. As I turned to leave, Acorn Man climbed into the fork of a tree. "Listen," he said.
"I showed you all of this because I want you to promise share it with others. Show them how special a forest is."
I promised I would.
Acorn Man thanked me and then headed back into the forest. Before I walked away, I looked back to say goodbye. Acorn Man was climbing into the elevator of a large oak.
"Don't forget!" he said as he rose out of sight.
And, I didn't.