by Florence W. Deems

This wire cage Dad made is tall as me! I can't reach over it. I just gotta stand here, press my face into the wire, get as close as I can.

"Hello there!"

I jump back, look all round. Did someone just say 'hello'? I don't see anyone. So I turn back to the wire cage again.

"Hello there! Don't you want to talk to me?"

I look all round again. "Who that?" I ask.

"You're looking in the wrong direction. Look here inside this cage," the voice says.

I look, blink, rub my eyes, then look again! There's no one in that cage! 'Cept my baby tree. Dad put this cage around it. So animals don't chew it up.

"Why don't I see you?" I ask the voice.

"You can--you're looking right at me! I'm the tree you planted here!"

"Oh!" I hafta sit down. I'm surprised. Then I move closer to the cage. "But you're a TREE! Trees don't talk, silly!" I tell it. I'm FOUR years old. I KNOW trees don't talk!

"I do," says the little tree! That's where the voice comes from!

"Okay," I think about this. "Why you talk?"

"I'm a story tree," it announces.

"A story tree? What's a story tree?"

"Well, you humans call us oaks. That's a good name, I guess. Except it really doesn't say what we do."

This sure is strange! "Okay, what you do?"

"Why, we collect stories."

"You mean like in books?"

I hear the breeze move the little tree's leafs. Sounds like it's laughing at me! "I guess that's a good analogy," it says.

"Analogy," I repeat. "What's a analogy?"

"In this case," the little tree says, "it means we're sorta like a book. We even have leaves, like a book."

"Silly tree!" I laugh. "Books don't have leafs! TREES have leafs! Books have PAGES and a COVER!"

"People sometimes call pages, leaves," the little tree says.

"That's silly!"

"The Elders say humans do lots of silly things."

"Who's the Elders?" I ask.

"You would call them the biggest, the oldest, the wisest of the oak trees," says the little tree.

"Just cuz they live long? Old people in MY family--we call 'em gram parents!" I think about this a little bit. "How come the Elders know 'bout humans?" This seems really strange, trees that know about humans!

"Why, because humans and trees have lived together for a long, long time. Long ago, humans worshipped us oaks. They knew we have much wisdom. But today, most humans don't know this. They've forgotten what their own Elders told them, long time ago. So now humans cut down the big oaks. Not just the big oaks, either, but lots of other big trees. All over the whole world. Soon there may be no big trees left. And then there won't be any humans left, either. Humans need big trees to live."


"Do you know what trees do for humans?"

"Sure! My dad says we get wood from trees!"

"No," says the little tree, "that's not what I meant. If humans didn't have wood, they could still build things. There's clay and sand and stone and other things to build with. No, trees, and other plants, too, but mostly trees, make the air clean for humans and the other animals to breathe."

"How do trees clean the air?"

"We take the air into our leaves. We use parts of the air and combine it with sunlight. That's how we make our food. Then the parts of the air we can't use, we send back out of our leaves. The part of the air we DO use is the part that humans CAN'T use. The part that we don't use much is the part that humans need. When we make our food, we also make more of that part that humans need."

"But there'd still be air! Even if there wasn't no trees left!" I say.

"Oh, yes," the little tree says. "But it would be the kind of air that humans and animals can't use. They'd all DIE, you see."

"Even ME? And Mom and Dad? We'd all DIE?" This sounds AWFUL!

"Yes, even YOU. ALL the humans and animals!" the little tree says.

It's a very warm day. But I get goosebumps! "I don't WANNA DIE!" I cry.

"Then you must tell the other humans to stop cutting down the trees!"

"Oh, grown-ups don't listen to ME! I'm too young, or sumpin."

"But, you'll grow up!" the little tree promises. "Just like I'll grow up."

I hear my mom's voice. "Charlie! Charlie! Come in--it's time for supper!"

"Well, bye!" I tell the little tree. "I gotta go. But I be back soon!"


The Story Trees
1 ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4 ~ 5 ~ 6 ~ 7
8 ~ 9 ~ 10 ~ 11 ~ 12 ~ 13

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