The Sky is Falling

by Tom Swift


I squint my eye and face the north sky. I see a winged foot, a whirligig of silver maple seed, break from a tree that is ten stories high if it is a foot.

I have not noticed this tree before. Though already in the short time I have lived here I have walked beneath its outstretched limbs a few dozen times. Sometimes you miss the massive things.

I follow the twirls as the golden winged foot helicopters toward me. The seed seems somehow to fly both slowly and quickly at the same time.

I watch it cross two backyards, watch it travel over cars and garages, until it dives down and tucks into an overgrown patch of Irish-green sod feet from my feet. Sucker must have traveled sixty, seventy yards.

While a solo voyage, this winged foot is hardly a pioneer. In fact, that silver maples and another I spot on the other side of the block are filing the alley, our gutters, our lawns, with these golden winged feet. You might say they are everywhere. On everything. You might say they are a nuisance. In a few minutes, the kind old gentleman on the end of the block and I share words to this effect. (I think it would be funny to knock on the door of a silver maple tree owner and ask them to pick up their mess.)

Yet I read up and learn that the silver maple’s intentions are good and, besides, it can’t help it. It is reacting to the frightful winter we just had. This tree is simply smarter than you think.

The winged feet are designed to travel. That is the point. The point is not to fall straight down. The point is to spread seeds in the hope more seeds will mean more trees will grow. In that respect, we should thank them. For the trees could survive without us but we could not survive without the trees.


Stressed silver maple trees produce more of the golden winged foot seeds and after record-setting snowfalls and polar vortex temps this winter, like the rest of us, these guys must have been a little worried about their survival.

In other words, the seed that I watched fall to my feet did not land indiscriminately. It landed seed-side down. It landed precisely between the blades of my sod as a means to plant itself and grow into something new.

How can you do anything but admire something with which you share a purpose?