The Tin Forest
There was once a wide, windswept place, near nowhere and close to forgotten, that was filled with all the things that no one wanted. Right in the middle was a small house, with small windows, that looked out on other people’s rubbish and bad weather.
In the house lived an old man. Every day, he tried to tidy away the rubbish, sifting and sorting, burning and burying. And every night, the old man dreamed. He dreamed he lived in a jungle full of wild forest animals. There were colourful birds, tropical trees, exotic flowers, toucans, tree frogs and tigers. But when he awoke, his world outside was still the same.
One day, something caught the old man’s eye and an idea planted itself in his head. The idea grew roots and sprouted. Feeding on the rubbish, it grew leaves. It grew branches. It grew bigger and bigger. Under the old man’s hand, a forest emerged. A forest made of rubbish. A forest made of tin. It was not the forest of his dreams but it was a forest just the same.
Then one day, across the windswept plain the wind swept a small bird. The old man spilled crumbs from his sandwiches onto the ground. The bird ate the crumbs and perched to sing in the branches of a tin tree. But the next morning, the visitor was gone. All day, the old man walked through the silence and his heart ached with emptiness.
That night, by moonlight, he made a wish…
In the morning, the old man woke to the sound of birdsong. The visitor had returned and, with him, his mate. The birds dropped seeds from their beaks. Soon, green shoots broke through the earth. Time passed. Soon the song of birds mingled with the buzzing of insects and the rustle of leaves. Small creatures appeared, creeping amongst the jungle of trees. Wild animals slipped through the green shadows.
There once was a forest, near nowhere and close to forgotten, that was filled with all the things that everyone wanted.
And in the middle was a small house and an old man who had toucans, tree frogs and tigers in his garden.
- What does windswept mean?
- How does “close to forgotten” make us feel about this place?
- Why does the old man sift the rubbish? (what does sifting mean?)
- Which words tell us that the plants and animals are not from around here?
- How do the dreams make the old man feel?
- What does the author mean by “an idea planted itself in his head”?
- How is the idea like a forest?
- Why do you think the man’s heart “ached with emptiness”?
- What does emerged mean?
- How has the old man changed from the beginning of the story to the end?