A tree falls silently in the empty forest, yes. It lands across a path that the deer have been walking for centuries. One day, a small pack of deer come to this tree, but of course they do not think of it strictly or so much as a tree as they do a giant obstacle to their moving forward.
Earlier that morning, they were chased out of a canyon by a mountain lion. They threw the lion off their scent by skirting a wild-fire fueled by westerly winds. A few of the older, more matronly doe, sticking closest to the licking flames so as to protect the three fawn, singed their hair. It was that close. But they all survived, thanks to the ingenuity of the pack buck.
Of course this tree makes the buck suspicious. Everything happens, after all, at least in his long experience, in threes. He needs to check this out and motions at the doe to stay behind. His plan is to walk up the length of the tree so as to find a possible pathway through it. The fawn want to wobble after him, but he makes a wild motion with his head and this loud snorting sound meaning that the fawn are to stay back with their mothers for their safety.
The buck, as these stories go, tra la la, is never heard from again. It is not clear if he slipped down a canyon or was eaten by wolves or perhaps, more than likely, shot by hunters and carried away. The small buckless pack wait for the better part of the late afternoon but, finally hungry and anxious, begin carving a new path by walking around the tree.
The tree is incidental to the story, or to the story of their lives. There are other lions, fires, obstacles. They are constantly in need of protection, warmth, water and food. Life goes on. There will be many other bucks and fawning seasons to follow. They navigate by the moon when traveling between feeding grounds during the cooler nights of summer. They work their way south to warmer pastures in winter.
Over time, grass and fern and moss and various other deep woods fauna collect and grow up all around this tree. These things attract birds and rodents to eat of the fruit of this fauna and to live there, to nest and to shit and dig holes. Eventually a thick level of sod has gathered, enough to support the growing of other trees. Meanwhile, the original tree beneath the mound decomposes and the earth over a century or more, levels out, so that the descendants of the descendants of the original pack later come to the tree no longer as tree but as an invisible wall, a sharp turn in the path, an absence, if anything, really, at all.