by Florence W. Deems

My story tree's now five whole years old! And I'm getting pretty big, too. I'm nine now. And growing like a weed, Mom says, every time she hasta buy me new clothes. Me and Mom have been coming out here to read stories near my little tree for five years now.

When Mom wanted to know why I wanted to read out here, I told her, so the tree could listen to the stories, too. She just laughed and told Dad and he laughed and laughed, too. Every time one of their friends came over, they'd tell the friend and then the friend would laugh, too. So I learned it's not such a good idea to tell grown-ups that my tree can hear them. Geez, what would they think if they knew it can talk, too?

I even tried telling a couple of my good friends about my story tree, and they told me to grow up--that trees can't talk and things like that. So now I just keep quiet about it and don't tell anyone what my tree can really do.

But at least Mom and Dad liked this area where the tree is enough, so they made a sitting garden around it. Dad put a circle of bricks around the base of the tree. But he made sure to leave a big enough space around it so it can grow. He says when the tree gets too big for its space, then he'll just take out a circle of bricks or so, and put more soil where the bricks were, so it can grow some more. I'm glad he's doing this for my tree, even though he doesn't know it's a really special tree. He just likes trees, especially white oaks, he says.

When I was little, I didn't know why he said this is a WHITE oak. Dad says that's what scientists call it. It's got green leaves, not white, 'cept they're sorta not as dark a green as the other kinds of oaks. Each fall when the weather gets cold, its leaves turn a bright red that's even redder when the sun shines through them. And then when winter comes, the leaves look dull red and they fall off the tree and I can't talk to it any more. 'Cuz it goes to sleep for the winter, like bears do. That's okay with me, though, 'cause I can't come out here in the winter and talk to it.

It's not winter today, so we're just sitting here, talking like we usually do, me and my tree. We've been talking about all the stories Mom has read to us. When she reads me stories in the winter while the tree's sleeping, I remember them, so I can tell them to my tree when it wakes up. It sure appreciates that.

Dad shows up, so I hafta stop talking to my tree. "Hey, Charlie! There you are! Figured I'd find you out here. This must be your favorite place on all the property, I think, 'cuz you spend so much time out here, reading and all." He comes over and takes a look at the tree. "Hey, it's sure growing, isn't it? Just like you, my man!" He laughs and runs his fingers lightly over the top of my head.

I swat at him, playful like. "Yeah, Dad. 'Member when I brought the acorn home? It sure was tiny then."

"Yeah." He squats down to look at the base of the tree. "Charlie, I think we're gonna hafta take out about three circles of bricks from here, see? It's gonna need more open soil for its roots." He stands up. "So let's go get the tools and the wheelbarrow and get to work."

It takes us the better part of the rest of the day to do this. Finally, as I tamp the rest of the soil into place, Dad drags over the hose and sprinkler.

"Now we'll give it a good soaking, son, so it can start growing some more."

Aw, gee. This means I can't sit here some more and ask the tree how it likes what we've done for it. The sprinkler'd get me all wet. I wouldn't mind that--it's still hot. But Mom'd yell at me. So I'll just hafta wait 'til tomorrow.


Next day, soon as it's light and the birds are singing up a storm, I get up, pull on some clothes and go out to see my tree.

Before I get a chance to ask it, it says, "Thanks, Charlie, for taking those bricks away. They were beginning to cramp my outer roots a little. And that nice drink from the sprinkler felt so good. It was just what my roots and the rest of me needed."

"I'm glad you like it. Dad says we'll hafta keep doing this ever so often, as you keep on growing. Just like my folks hafta keep on getting me bigger clothes, 'cause I grow bigger, too! Some day, I'll be grown up, just like Dad. Maybe even taller!"

The tree laughs. I've learned that it can move its leaves to rub against each other to laugh. It doesn't need the wind for this, you see. "Charlie, some day I'll tower over you. Some day I'll be so big you can climb up in my branches and see much farther away than you can now."

"Wish I could climb up in you now. But you're still too little," I sigh. "Dad says you won't be really big 'til I'm all grown up. Trees grow slower than people."

"Yes, but trees grow taller than humans. Maybe that's why it seems that we grow so slowly. How many years do you think it'd take humans to grow as big as a tree?"

I laugh and roll on the ground. "Maybe a hunnerd years!"

"Probably not half that long," the tree laughs. "But trees do live longer than humans, you know. I do hope you'll want to live here when you grow up and have acorns of your own!" Now the tree really laughs, as it's got a breeze to help it.

The breeze feels cold to my back. Oh-oh, my shirt's wet. I forgot the sprinkler was on last night. "Sorry, but I better go and change my shirt, or Mom'll yell at me!" I tell my tree.

"I'm glad tree parents don't yell at their offspring," my tree observes.

"Well, you can't exactly go any place or do anything that'd get you in trouble, you know!" I tell it as I head back to the house.


A few days later I come out to the tree in the evening. "Mom says we're gonna go to Gram's tomorrow and Sunday and we're gonna sleep over. So me and you won't talk for a few days."

"Gram's," the tree says. "Isn't that the place where you found me when I was a little acorn?"

"Oh, yeah, that's right! I forgot about that!"

"Do you remember where it was that you found me at Gram's?"

"Sure! Out in the street in front of her house. There's a big white oak tree in her front yard and Dad says that's probably where you came from--that tree."

"Then you'll be seeing my parent tree! Please do something for me? Will you talk to my parent and tell it about me? Tell it I'm learning a lot of stories from you and your parents and those books. See if it has any messages for me?"

"Oh my!" I gasp. "I just never thought to try talking to that tree before. Suppose it'll talk to me?"

"You can hear me perfectly well, can't you? If that's my parent tree, then it'll be a story tree, too. You'll be able to hear it. Maybe it'll tell you some stories."

"Yeah, okay! That'll be fun! I'm big enough I can climb in it, too. Once I'm up in it, the big folks won't know I'm talking to it, either!" So I promise I'll try talking to its parent tree.


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

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