by Florence W. Deems

The tree greets me. I say hi back to it and then just sit here, waiting. Finally the tree asks what's wrong.

"Well, I was just wondering if that funny little fellow'd be back, now that Gram's gone. I went off the other day and never got any answers to my questions. His showing up like that sorta--well, shocked me."

"So--ye want me back, do ye?" And the little guy pops onto a branch near me! Good thing I'm hanging on or I might have slipped!

"You always go around scaring folks like that?" I challenge him.

"Shouldna been scared--ye asked fer me, so I came! Waddya ask fer sumpin fer anyway, if then ye gits scared o' it?"

"I'm NOT scared of you!" I retort. "You just popped up here so sudden like, it startled me, that's all."

"Humpf!" The little being rearranges himself on the branch. "Nother thing. Ye asked me a buncha questions and then ran off and dinna give me a chance to tell ye the answers! Ye always treat others thata way?"

"No! I just got mad at you 'cause you were saying things about my gram that weren't nice!"

"NICE, it is now? NICE! Ye really think summon who'd run off those who were trying to help her child is NICE?" He stands up and shakes his fist at me!

"What child are you talking about?" I glare at him.

The tree intervenes, "I really wish the two of you'd calm down and discuss this in a reasonable fashion. I don't want to host a battle!"

"A B-B-BATTLE?" the little being sputters in his rage. Then suddenly a transformation comes over him, so that he simply sits down all calm and pleasant-like! "Now let's see--I think ye wanted to know why that old Sarah human run us off. Well, like I says, she was trying to pertect her young un, she was. Ye see, she could see us just as plain as her little boy could! And she dinna like it one bit, she dint!"

"Her little boy?" I exclaim. "You mean my DAD when he was little!" My goodness!

"Well he's all growd up now, a' course, and he don't believe in us any more. But when he was a young 'un, he could see us and talk to us, too, jist like ye kin, ye see," the funny little man explains.

I still don't understand. "But why'd Gram chase you off? If she could SEE you, that is? Mom and Dad usta just laugh at me when I was little and told them I could talk to this tree's child I planted. But you're saying that Dad could actually SEE you! So why'd he pretend he didn't believe me?"

The tree rustles its leaves to get our attention. "Charlie, we don't know why a lot of the white humans won't or don't want to, believe in our reality. Even when they do have the ability to see and hear us. The Native Americans communicated with us all the time. But the whites are different. Perhaps they're afraid to believe in us."

"Why would Gram be afraid to believe in you?"

"I'm not sure what the story is behind this, Charlie. Have you heard of the Salem witch trials?" the tree surprises me with this question.

"You know those stories, TOO? How could you know anything about those trials? We don't live anywhere near where all that happened!"

"Oh, yes. You see, at one time the forest extended unbroken all the way from there to here and beyond. That was before the white humans came and cut down a lot of us trees, including some of the story trees. But enough story trees still remained at the time of the trials, so that they passed those stories on to all the rest of us story trees. So that's how, eventually, those New England stories got way out here."

"Oh," I say. Gee, this is a sobering thought. "But now that much of the forest is cut off, how do you pass these stories around so that all the story trees know all the stories?"

"Well, Charlie, we can't do this on our own any more, now. So we depend on humans like you to tell us stories we don't know. When you planted my acorn, my offspring grew up away from any other story tree. So that's why it started asking you to tell it some stories. But if you'd taken your parents' word that trees can't talk, then my child wouldn't know any stories, except what it can pick up from humans visiting you or passing by."

"Okay that makes sense. But why'd you ask me about those witch trials?"

"The humans accused of being witches were said to be able to talk to other trees and plants and animals. So this ability became a bad thing for white humans to admit that they could do this. Some of them continued to do this in secret, of course, but if anyone else ever found out, it was reported to the authorities.

"Later on, even after the whites stopped holding witch trials, they still called this ability crazy and would lock up those humans who could see and hear us. You call these mental institutions. So this may be what old Sarah was afraid of. She didn't want anyone to think that she and her son were crazy."

"Oh, so that does make sense," I sigh. "But why didn't my dad remember and tell me that when he was a boy, he could do this?"

"He may be afraid to remember. But those memories are buried somewhere inside him," the tree answers simply.

I address the little man, "So how could Gram chase you away? Why didn't you just stay away from her, but let my dad still see and hear you?"

"As I recall, Sarah threatened to call in an exorcist if we didn't stay away from both of them!"

"But why did that frighten you?"

"Sonny, some of these exorcists are really good! They ken what they're doing, ye see. We dinna want any binding spells put on us. So we left. This tree stayed, of course, but it's kept silent all these years 'til ye showed up.

"So when old Sarah got sick a few days ago, the tree called us! I came back to see what was going on and saw her spirit leave. It went inta the Light with the help o' some o' those Light Beings. So it went where it's supposed to go. So now the rest of us kin come back, if we've a mind to. Some of 'em went to other places that they like, so they won't be coming back."

"Now that I've heard your story, I'm glad you came back! I hope some of the others come back, too!"


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

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