The Story Maple

 

Gaia looked upon the creatures, to which her body gave succor, with particular delight, appreciating each for their unique magic with which they blessed her, for all the beings of her world are magic, each in their own way.

 
As she looked about her, she could not help but smile at the beauty of biodiversity in all of her realms and climes. When her gaze passed over the ancient enchanted grove of the Elven folk, her All-seeing eyes fell upon a single seed pod of twins from a Maple tree clinging ever so slightly to their parent’s branchling. She could sense the seedling twin’s reluctance to let go and make the long drop to the ground, and feel the warm, loving encouragement their mother gave them to fly.

 
With not a sound the seedling twins let go the Mother Maple’s gentle grip, and as they detached, they began to spiral like a whirlybird. Gaia smiled her nurturing smile and blessed the trembling seedling twins with an image to give them courage. She showed them the flight of a Dandelion seed parachuting to the forest floor. The seedling twins were inspired as they watched the Dandelion seed rise up above the tops of the trees and glide a great distance to spread life across the earth.

 
Inspired, the seedling twins twirled their way to a rising warm current and rose up toward the bright sun. They played in the wind, dancing gracefully, flying far and wide before settling down to earth in a neighboring wood.

 
They had selected a choice spot to make their soft landing just at the edge of a clear running, babbling brook that chattered on endlessly about this and that. The Brook’s voice was music to the seedling twin’s spirits as they had never before heard the like, and they settled in the fertile soil, covering themselves with a blanket of warm, rich earth to take a short nap.

 
When the seedling awoke, for seedling twin it was no longer, nor was it even a seedling anymore: it felt two things in stark contrast to one another, it felt the new body it had as the sapling that it now was, but it also felt a deep sense of loss, for its twin was nowhere to be found.

 
As if no time had passed at all, for time was not a concept for trees, the Babbling brook nattered on as it ran past, seemingly unaware that the sapling had not been listening at all, but had been asleep. As she listened, she began to understand that the Babbling brook spoke to no one in particular, but was enamored of the sound of its own voice.

 
So she listened as she soaked up its fresh water, always wriggling her root toes for a closer sip. She was always thirsty after a long day of soaking up the sun, warm on her thin limbs. She was even thirsty on the days when the gray clouds that got between her and the bright jewel in the sky showered her endlessly.

 
“Noisy things,” she thought of the clouds, “and grumpy too. What have they to complain about? So dark they cannot see their silver lining. They’re free to fly all across the sky while I am stuck here, not even close enough to take a long drink. Always having to sway this way and that just to get my fair share of the Sun, harumph,” she belched.

 
“Perhaps you should not have been so hasty to land when you chose that spot. But, any closer and you might have been washed away in my waters,” the Babbling brook chimed in. “I have carried many a seedling downstream to parts unknown that have never taken root in our mother, Gaia, but have decomposed and then returned to her for recycling.

 
‘Perhaps you would have been better off that way as you seem displeased with where and how you are currently situated. Or, perhaps you should have landed on my other bank where there are fewer large trees to block the sun. Then again, the grove you are within affords you some protection from the wind, you know? It’s entirely possible for you to have been blown away altogether if you had not put down right where you are. Have you not considered that? That despite all your wishes to be elsewhere, you are precisely where you are supposed to be?” it piped up at the end as if it found its own logic illuminating and clever.

 
“Perhaps you should keep your opinions to yourself as I have had just about enough of your perhapses for one day,” she barked, not hiding her irritation. “I will thank you not to water me with your unsolicited advice. Do keep your soliloquy to a whisper as I intend to take another nap. Although I must admit your inane chattering is so boring, I believe the sun goes away each night simply to get away from it.”

 
Again, she slept for who knows how long, for time was not a concern for trees. They simply yield to the demands of life as they come, taking things one moment at a time. As she slept, she dreamed. She dreamed of the Home woods, of her Mother Maple so far away she could not see her above the branches of the taller trees in the grove.

 
In dream she saw her so clearly, every blemish of her bark, every vein in her maturing leaves, the branches that had once sheltered her with love. In dream she quivered from leaf to root with visceral longing to be near her family. She ached at the absence of her brother who perished, though she did not know how, and certainly not why. She could feel his phantom presence just beyond her reach no matter how hard she extended her reach. Why had she survived when he had not, when they had had the exact same opportunity at life?

 
When Mabel awoke from her deep slumber, she was astonished at the changes that had come over her as she slept. She was no longer a sapling, but a tree as tall as any in the Enchanted forest. Her crown was lush and full of bright green leaves that waved in the breeze making music as they rustled.

 
She heard voices from below and turned her attention to the two Elves who rested in her shade. They were in such peaceful repose, her head in his lap, as he recited a tale of the forest’s creation.

 
Mabel listened and remembered every word, but afraid she might forget, she wrote it down on her leaves.

 
Days later she overheard the gossips and busybodies telling the tale all wrong. They gave the impression they were the creators rather than the created, and Mabel could not abide such hubris. She decided she would insure the truth was known by all and resolved to spread the Word when the Fall came.

 
Her leaves flew across the land and Mountain read her story. He felt it was an important subject and chiseled it into his memory deep in the bedrock where it was sure to endure. Her story made its way to the Oceans as the Babbling Brooks told any who would listen. The Oceans likewise recognized the value of preserving the Word and wanted to help. They decided to repeat the stories endlessly on their waves, so that none would forget it.

 

She sighed in satisfaction and readied herself for another good long nap when her friend, Absalom the Crow alighted on her highest branch.

 
“No good can come of this, Mabel,” he cawed, “you are a part of this Enchanted forest now, it is foolish to fly against the flock,” he said, extending one wing back, indicating the forest at her back. “Why did you have to write such things?”

 
Nutasha the squirrel scampered up her trunk to sit on a branch and listen. Her eyes were wide and she twitched nervously as she always did. “I like her stories, they never made much sense the way everyone else told them, and everyone had their own version that changed with each retelling.” Nutasha chewed her fingernails as if unaware she held an acorn in her other hand.

 
“I am content to stand by the truth of what I wrote. I will continue to write even if only the mountain and the oceans approve. I think that is my purpose, like it or not,” she replied sleepily.

 
Absalom lifted into the air with a beat of his black wings and Nutasha squirreled her way inside a spacious knothole on Mabel’s trunk just as a Thundersnow storm swept down the valley from the Mountains. The land settled beneath a crystal blanket that reflected the moonglow so well it lit the valley up as bright as day. And all was quiet but for the Weeping of the Willow who cried herself to sleep.

 

~
M. Zane McClellan

~

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