The Tree by Anne Marie Coleman


“What have you done to my tree?” The dwarf demanded. “Why have you pulled the leaves from the branches and strewn them on the ground?”

There once was a dwarf who took up residence in a den where a majestic maple tree stood just west of the opening. He came to his new home in the den just as the summer began warming the earth with brilliant rays of sunshine.

In the mornings the dwarf spent most of his time in the den tending to his housekeeping duties, but in the afternoon when the sun was high in the sky and warm and bright, he’d take refuge under the shade of that reliable maple tree whose deep green leaves were dense and broad.

He’d call out to travelers passing by in the heat of the day and invite them to join him in the cool shade of that tree. They’d come and sit while the dwarf drew water for them from a nearby brooklet. They’d thank the dwarf for the refreshment, and he felt happy to share the comforts of his beloved tree.

Life passed happily this way for many months until the air chilled. One afternoon, the dwarf emerged from his den to a shock. The broad green leaves of his beloved maple tree had turned orange and brittle and had fallen to the ground.

The dwarf looked around in horror and saw a man sitting on a nearby stump, observing the fallen leaves.

“What have you done to my tree?” The dwarf demanded. “Why have you pulled the leaves from the branches and strewn them on the ground?”

“I’ve done no such thing, except to observe the fallen leaves,” the man answered calmly.

“Then tell me who’s done this thing so I may confront them,” the dwarf prodded.

“The tree himself has done this, my friend,” the man went on. “He and his companion the season. Not I, but they have brought about this change in the leaves and their fall to the ground.”

The dwarf stood, perplexed but intrigued.

“The season; she has chilled the air, darkened the sky, and shortened the length of the day until the tree has shed his leaves to rest from his labors,” the man explained.

“To rest?” The dwarf puzzled.

“To rest and prepare for renewal,” the man said. “You see, my friend, all is not lost. Soon a blanket of snow will cover the ground and provide protective insulation to the tree’s roots and when the snow melts, it will provide much-needed moisture. Then, a brand-new season will come. She will warm the earth and her warm breeze will blow the chill out of the air and breathe new life all around. The old tree will sprout new green leaves that will grow broad like before and he will, once again, provide shade and comfort in the heat of the sun.”  

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