Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Continuing Tree - A Short Story

If ever there was a story about trees, then this one would be the most important. You see, not every tree is important to someone. There are trees that go unnoticed for years. They grow, sprout leaves and create vibrant colors in the fall, but no one cares for them. But there are trees people love. There are trees that are noticed. This story is about such a tree....

For many years the meadow had been untouched by humankind. If you can imagine the most perfect meadow then you wouldn't be far off from the beauty of this one. In the summer the grass was tall. Flowers grew waste high and in patches so varied that it would've been hard to name all the colors. On both sides of the meadow were gentle sloping hills that guided water into a small stream that cut through the right side. A small pond always provided water for the animals that would peak out in the early morning and evening. But the most striking part was the tree that grew near a flat spot by some boulders.

When explorers came to the meadow, it was clear what they looked at first. The tree was over 30 feet tall. It's majesty dominated the meadow. With broad branches, the tree captured the senses. And this is how it is with some trees. They are the masters of trees; so beautiful and powerful that all is shadowed by it. Animals would rest beneath it during the hottest part of the summer. During the winter, when the ground was covered with snow, the Elk would find tender grasses. And those explorers, who had a patient side, would lean against the tree and observe the peacefulness of the meadow.

Many years later, more people came to the meadow. Some came to lean and others came for the summer breezes, but all wanted to witness the tree. It was then, that I came to this meadow. Having heard about the tree, I wanted to see it for myself.

When you look upon the beauty of nature, you have nothing left in your soul. Just experiencing it takes all of your mind. Seeing the tree was that sort of experience. I was there in winter and called it pine. The snow had fallen heavily and covered the tree. It lay as though perfectly placed on the branches. The stories were true: this was the most beautiful tree. Knowing Christmas, I could see why people came to this meadow. The tree had an ever-lasting Christmas spirit. I'd seen lots of Christmas trees, but this one took your imagination. My mind's eye would paint large Christmas ornaments on the lower branches and a star on top. Small lights would twinkle on the middle branches. On the bottom of the tree could be presents. It was beautiful to imagine.

So you would be surprised to hear about when I traveled to this same meadow years after my first visit. When I came, my boots covered a candy wrapper. As I picked up the candy wrapper and raised my head, I almost fell over in shock. Before my very eyes was the disrespect of man. The tree had been cut down. My heart beat wildly as several houses came into view. Rage combined with extreme sorrow put me into a depression. I walked to where the tree once stood and looked at the rotten stump. Then I looked around the meadow. Clearly the tree had been removed to accommodate a long driveway to a large home. It was at this time that I had to do something.

"Did you know about the tree?" I asked the home owners. "Where you here in the winter? Had you ever enjoyed the shade it provided?" Not one of the home owners knew or experienced. My eyes filled with tears as I explained the beauty of the tree. "It was a wonderful tree - the perfect tree. And I don't know why you cut it down." After some time, I realized it was time for me to go from the meadow. There was nothing left for me there.

Many years passed on, and so did I. The homes that were in the meadow succumbed to disrepair. No new homes were built in the decades since my passing. And then man moved on. The area was no longer desirable or safe. Humankind moved to other lands and planets to survive. Earth was toxic. And then a tree started to grow. Near the stump, a small seedling cracked open and began to shoot for the sun. Then it was grown and just as beautiful as the tree before. Elk came back to the meadow and ate the grasses. The flowers returned and spread their wonderful colors. The meadow had re-created itself. After many years of peaceful existence with the natural plants and animals of the meadow, man returned.

But this man was more conscious of the meadow. He was struck even more by the beauty of the meadow. He also knew the history of this place. It had been destroyed once, by desire and clutter. Then he took off his helmet and breathed in the fresh air. He removed his glove and touched the tree. He thought to himself, "how did you survive all that we did to you? How could you have come back?" The man returned to his ship and pulled out a sign. It was one he had created for such a place as this and it read:
The truest gift is beauty. To those travelers who witness this place, keep it as you found it. Remember our history and care for the living things. Do not take, but give.

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