Once upon a time, there was a piece of wood. It was not an ordinary chunk of wood: it was a beautiful, veined piece of olive tree. But it had an odd shape, and a sad destiny was awaiting it. It had once been a taggiasca olive tree, tall and strong, but for some reason it had been cut and uprooted. Who knows why. And who knows how it ended up in the basement of an old house, among rubble and waste. The house was on a hill, sun-scorched and shaken by the wind, that had once been invaded by ants and then burnt down.
The piece of olive wood did not know that sun and that wind anymore. It lied in the dark, year after year, without ever seeing the beauty of the different seasons. It moaned and sighted: “Oh, if only I could go back and be with the other trees, feeling the rain on my leaves, warmed by the sun and caressed by the wind!”. It relished the memory of the warmth of the sun, of the freshness of the wind and the pleasure of the rain which had been nourishing and making it strong for so many centuries.
It was not alone in the room: other pieces of wood had also been abandoned, and the confinement in the basement had made them mean and cruel. They mocked its pointed shape, and envied its hope. The seasons and the years passed by, with our piece of wood always dreaming about the world outside: “How wonderful it would be to feel again the birds sitting and singing on my branches!”, only for its wooden companions to cruelly mock it: “Now you can feel the cats!”.
In fact, there were many cats, and mice too. Our piece of olive tree being a dreamer, it never grew tired of enquiring about the world outside, and about what happened beyond the walls of the basement. Sometimes the cats, other times the mice, described the passing of seasons, the cheerful sound of the cicadas and the brightness of the moonlight. They described how the hill was changing, year after year: an orchard had appeared here, strange sculptures had been spotted there. Persimmons were growing, the fig trees were laden with fruits, the ramassin plums carried the smell of far away worlds and the ponds were filled with crystal-clear water.
They spoke of the vibrant colors in the rooms that humans had started to inhabit again, right on top of the basement. They reported that people never seen before were curiously wondering around, observing, drawing, writing.
The piece of olive tree asked many questions, dreamed and remembered, keeping alive the spark of life it had managed to preserve: “What a pleasure it would be to feel again my roots deeply plunged into the soil!”.
Then, one day…