The second of my posts for the Creative Buzz Hop is a fun story for Christmas.
The Tree That Wanted To Be Different
The leaves on Ola the oak tree’s strong branches turned yellow and red and fell to the ground. She was used to this; it happened each year. It never used to bother her, because she knew more leaves would grow again in the spring, and she had already stored all the food she needed for the winter.
But this year, each leaf that fell to the ground was a tear falling from her face.
|Hugh Chevallier [CC-BY-SA-2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons|
The field where Ola stood was part of a farm, and for centuries she had been the only tree around. Just as Ola’s leaves fell to the ground each autumn and were replaced by fresh new leaves each spring, so the people who farmed her field grew old and withered, and new people replaced them. She had seen many farmers and their wives grow to be old men and women, and many children grow up. She loved all the farmers and their families, and they loved her.
Throughout the generations, each spring farmers had ploughed the land and planted wheat and barley. When they grew hungry from their work, they would come to sit under her boughs and eat bread and cheese. In the summer they brought their families and the children climbed in her branches. Sometimes a farmer’s wife would lean against her strong trunk, sewing and darning clothes while her children climbed to Ola’s highest branches. Children’s laughter rang through her boughs all summer, and the echoes of merriment from years gone by whistled through her leaves.
Then a few seasons ago, the farmer didn’t plough her field in the usual way, and she noticed people working a little way off, sowing an unfamiliar crop. The plants grew more slowly than wheat, and the farmer didn’t crop them at harvest time. The following season he placed another plant in the earth near Ola, and as it grew she realised it was a sapling, but not of an oak. The tree’s leaves were tiny, and resembled the needles the farmers’ wives had used to do their sewing.
“Hi,” it said. “I’m Douglas.”
She replied, “I’m Ola, and I’ve never seen anything like you in my life before.”
“Ah, that’s because I’m special. I’m a fir tree, and don’t lose my leaves like you do every year. I’m an evergreen.” He stretched his branches proudly.
Ola realised that the new plants nearby were the same as he was. “Why are you here with me instead of with the others of your kind?” she asked.
“Because I’m even more special than the other firs. The farmer says I’m the going to be the most beautiful of them all when I grow up.”
“He’ll never get to see that,” Ola said sadly. “People wither long before trees are fully grown.”
But she was surprised how rapidly Douglas grew. Soon he was no longer a sapling, but a small tree.
The farmer no longer visited in springtime, and Ola missed the feel of his back against her trunk. In the summer he brought his family to picnic in the shade of Ola’s broad leaves. She felt happy again, as the children clambered through her branches to the sunshine up above.
But before they left for the farmhouse, they stopped and looked at Douglas. The farmer’s daughter clapped her hands, “Isn’t he beautiful?” Her father nodded.
“When will he be ready Daddy?’
“Just be patient, Ashley,” the farmer replied.
“He’s so beautiful, and he smells so nice,” Ashley said. “I love him.” As she flung her arms around Douglas’s spindly trunk, Ola felt her branches shiver in a sudden breeze.
Autumn came again. Ola’s leaves littered the ground, but Douglas’s spikey leaves didn’t fall. Some hikers came walking by, and stopped as they reached Ola and Douglas.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” they said.
Ola knew they were talking about Douglas, and she remembered when people used to say that about her. Nobody noticed her any more, nobody cared. She looked at her brown leaves scattered over the moss and grass, and she wished she could stay green and beautiful all year like Douglas.
As autumn passed into winter, Ola’s snow laden branches drooped. Douglas had grown tall and looked even more beautiful with his glistening branches. Ola couldn’t bear to look at him. She felt tired and old, and dozed off to sleep.
Ola woke suddenly when a loud crack filled the air. She felt panic seep through her roots. Had one of her branches given way under the snow’s heaviness? Now no one would ever look at her again, and no children would climb in her branches. If she had grown straight and tall like Douglas the snow wouldn’t have hurt her.
Yet Ola could feel all her branches still intact. The crack hadn’t come from her.
Then she noticed that where Douglas should have been was only a stump, and he lay on the ground. The farmer and little Ashley were pulling him onto a sled. Then the farmer lashed rope around him.
Ashley clapped her hands. “He’s going to be the prettiest Christmas tree we’ve ever had,” she shrieked.
Snow dropped from Ola’s branches, and fell to the ground.
Ashley came over. “Poor oak tree, you’re crying. Are you jealous because we didn’t pick you for our Christmas tree? You look so sad all bare and cold. I’ll make you feel better.” She wrapped her arms around Ola, and a satisfied sigh filled the cold air.
PS: Just In Case You Are Worried About Douglas
He was very happy dressed up in his finery, and when Christmas was over Ashley and her mother took a cutting from one of his branches, made a cut in it, coated it in rooting powder, placed the branch in a pot and covered the pot with a polythene bag. They kept the cutting moist until it took root and started to grow, and when the time came they planted the new sapling in the field with Ola.
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